Ann Arbor City Council Sunday night caucus (Oct. 4, 2009): At its Sunday night meeting attended by only three councilmembers – Mayor John Hieftje, Sabra Briere (Ward 1) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5) – downtown zoning was again center stage.
A dozen or so residents attended the caucus and many of them addressed the changes that can be traced in the draft documents for A2D2 downtown building design guidelines from Oct. 15, 2007 to April 30, 2008, to Aug. 28, 2009, and most recently in the Sept. 30, 2009 version of the document.
The council will open a public hearing on the proposed guidelines on Oct. 5, but is not scheduled to vote on the matter until at least Oct. 19. At caucus, Hieftje said that the public hearing might be left open until Oct. 19 and that it was possible that no vote would be taken then – there was “no rush,” he said.
The complaint of many of those who addressed caucus was this: A commitment to the design guidelines as a compulsory part of project review had been gradually written out of the various drafts.
The challenge in following the changes to the draft was made more difficult, some speakers contended, by the fact that the city had altered its strategy for publicizing public hearings. That’s a strategic necessity driven by the fact that the closing of The Ann Arbor News leaves The Washtenaw Legal News as the only local “newspaper of general circulation.”