Stories indexed with the term ‘nonprofit’

City Notifies Selma Cafe of Zoning Violation

The city of Ann Arbor has sent a notice of zoning violation to the popular Selma Cafe, a weekly home-based breakfast gathering that raises money for local farmers and farming activities.

Selma Cafe, Lisa Gottlieb, zoning, Ann Arbor planning, Food System Economic Partnership, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

A map posted earlier this year on the Selma Cafe website aimed to address parking and traffic concerns in the neighborhood.

The group has also received notice that the nonprofit Food System Economic Partnership (FSEP) has decided to end its fiscal sponsorship of Selma Cafe, citing “significant violations” of the terms in a memorandum of understanding between the two entities. The FSEP board voted to make the move in late March.

But it’s the zoning violations that could force a dramatic change in Selma Cafe, which often draws more than 200 people to the home of co-founder Lisa Gottlieb, located near Eberwhite Elementary School. The letter, dated April 3 from city planning manager Wendy Rampson, notes that home occupations are allowed in residential areas, but with certain restrictions. The letter states that Selma Cafe violates those restrictions in three ways: (1) more people are involved in the operation than are allowed under city code; (2) more than the permitted 10 vehicle trips per day are generated; and (3) the need for parking is not being met.

Reached by phone on Friday, Gottlieb said she plans to hand-deliver a response to the city on Monday. She believes the parking, traffic and congestion issues are resolved, and she is actively pursuing two other locations as possible venues for the weekly breakfasts. She disagrees with the city’s interpretation of the code, noting that Selma Cafe is not a business and the people who work there are volunteers, not employees. Although she hopes to continue holding the breakfasts, she said at this point it’s unclear how things will play out and whether that will be possible.

Gottlieb noted that one neighbor had criticized Selma Cafe for bringing thousands of people to the neighborhood since they started in 2009. Although the neighbor had cited that as a negative thing, Gottlieb said to her it seemed “pretty incredible” that the effort had been able to engage so many people in raising money for the local foodshed, keeping money in the community and helping local farmers.

Regarding the issues raised by FSEP, Gottlieb explained that she had withdrawn funds from the FSEP-managed bank account to transfer into a new account created as Selma Cafe transitions to become an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit. She had not first informed FSEP of the withdrawal, as required under terms of the memorandum of understanding. Even if that had not occurred, she added, “the fact is they wanted to be done with us.”

Obtaining the nonprofit status is taking longer than anticipated, so Selma Cafe is seeking another fiscal sponsor. Until that happens, the funds for Selma that remain in the FSEP-managed account – which total about $40,000 – are frozen. If no new fiscal sponsor is found and Selma does not obtain its 501(c)3 designation by May 31, FSEP could take the Selma assets permanently, under terms of the MOU. If that happened, FSEP would need to allocate those funds “in any manner consistent with applicable tax and charitable trust laws and other obligations.” [Full Story]

Food Gatherers’ Expansion Approved

An expansion of the Food Gatherers’ facility in Ann Arbor moved ahead following action at the Ann Arbor planning commission’s Aug. 21, 2012 meeting. Commissioners unanimously recommended approval of changes to the nonprofit’s planned unit development (PUD), which will allow for a 12,646-square-foot addition to the back of the existing 16,977-square-foot building.

That building houses the nonprofit’s administrative offices, storage warehouse, and training space. The plan also will add 22 parking spaces to the site, and includes an expansion of produce-washing stations, used to clean vegetables grown at gardens on the site. The Carrot Way site is located on the north side of Ann Arbor off of Dhu Varren Road, east of Pontiac Trail.

According to a staff memo, the changes include a … [Full Story]

Community Foundation Marks 45 Years

Alex Perlman and Molly Dobson represent the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundations 45-year span.

Alex Perlman and Molly Dobson represent the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation's 45-year span. Dobson was a trustee from 1969-1971. Perlman, a Huron High senior, has been a youth council representative on the AAACF board.

“This has been a challenging year – you’ll hear that word a lot,” Debbie Beuche told about 300 people who attended Tuesday evening’s annual meeting of the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation. Beuche, the nonprofit’s board chair, said AAACF gave out $2.2 million in grants and scholarships in 2008 – a year in which their annualized investment return was -31%.

The meeting highlighted AAACF’s accomplishments during 2008, and recognized volunteers who were stepping down from their work with the organization. The event also included a presentation on a project funded by the foundation called The B-Side: The Business Side of Youth, a program to encourage entrepreneurship for youth.

But first, the finances. [Full Story]

OTC Offers Free Month for Former IAS Clients

UPDATE to our previous article: Just after 4 p.m. we received a call from Mike Klein of Online Technologies Corp., who said that OTC is offering a free month of website and email service to anyone affected by the IAS situation. They also are offering free co-location of servers for a month, if necessary. OTC, with offices at Avis Farms, has received dozens of calls from people seeking help, Klein said: “They can’t afford downtime.” To contact OTC, call 734-213-2020 and press 2 for sales.

Local Groups Scramble After IAS Eviction

Websites for several local institutions – including the AATA and Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation – were disabled Monday in the wake of business problems suffered by IAS, a local Internet company that’s been evicted from its office in the Lowertown area.

UAS Sign

The IAS sign is among the detritus set outside following the firm's eviction this week.

The NEW Center, a group that provides support services to local nonprofits, received calls from several people on Tuesday who were searching for alternatives to get their websites up again, said Linh Song, a NEW Center technology manager. Song is director of NEW’s npServ program, which helps nonprofits manage their information technology services.

The timing of this outage – which in some cases affected email service as well – was especially difficult for nonprofits, given that it has occurred during the height of the giving season, when groups typically see their largest year-end donations and await word on grant applications. You want to be as responsive as possible – you don’t want to worry about whether your email works, Song said. [Full Story]