Stories indexed with the term ‘traffic calming’

Larchmont Traffic Calming OK’d

A traffic calming project on Larchmont Drive at a cost of  $8,800 has been approved by the Ann Arbor city council. The council’s action came at its June 16, 2014 meeting. The action included an appropriation for five other traffic calming projects, totaling $55,000.

Larchmont traffic calming proposal: Three speed humps.

Larchmont traffic calming proposal: Three speed humps.

The approval of this project comes in the context of the council’s budget deliberations last month, when an amendment was offered but rejected by the council that would have cut the FY 2015 budget allocation for art administration from $80,000 to $40,000 and put the $40,000 is savings toward traffic calming projects. The … [Full Story]

Council Focus: Nominations, Neighborhoods

Ann Arbor city council meeting (Oct. 7, 2013): The council’s meeting was bookended with the topic of mayoral appointments to boards and commissions – beginning with a confirmation vote that was not taken at all, and ending with a motion to reconsider a confirmation vote the council had taken at its previous meeting.

Mayor John Hieftje

Mayor John Hieftje. There are 26 more regular city council meetings left in Hieftje’s mayoral tenure. He announced on Oct. 11 that he’s not planning to run for re-election in 2014. In an email sent to The Chronicle, he said the decision was made much earlier: “I made the decision over the summer on a kayak trip on the north east coast of Lake Superior.” (Photos by the writer.)

The confirmation vote that did not take place was on the appointment of Wayne Appleyard to the city’s energy commission. Although his nomination had been announced at the council’s Sept. 16 meeting, mayor John Hieftje did not move his name forward for a vote on Oct. 7. Appleyard’s appointment would have required a 7-vote majority under the city charter – because he’s not a city resident. With only eight councilmembers in attendance, his confirmation might not have received seven votes. A recent change to the council’s rules put the routine appointments – which the council approved unanimously – near the start of the meeting.

The confirmation vote that was moved for reconsideration at the end of the Oct. 7 meeting was that of Al McWilliams to the board of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. Midway through the meeting, the council had voted to direct the city attorney to write an opinion on the legal issues surrounding McWilliams’ appointment, which was made on a 6-5 vote at the council’s Sept. 16 meeting.

Under the council’s rules, McWilliams’ appointment appears to have required an 8-vote majority, because his nomination and confirmation came on the same night. That analysis relies on Hieftje’s statement at the council’s Sept. 3 meeting that on that occasion he was withdrawing McWilliams’ nomination. But because no objection to the apparent violation of the council’s rules was raised on Sept. 3, the city attorney’s opinion will likely just establish that a court challenge to the appointment could not be made.

A portion of the minutes of the council’s Sept. 16 meeting – relating to McWilliams’ appointment – was the topic of considerable back and forth, with approval of the minutes coming only after an amendment had been made to change the way some remarks made by Hieftje had been characterized.

The frustration of councilmembers on the losing side of the Sept. 16 vote was evident during deliberations – reflected in Mike Anglin’s (Ward 5) sole vote of dissent against the resolution directing the city attorney to write an opinion. Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1) also indicated dissatisfaction that the opinion resolution would not address the public’s interest in due process.

So a few minutes past midnight, after the council’s other business had been dispatched, Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) convinced his council colleagues to re-open the agenda for a motion to reconsider the vote on the appointment. Warpehoski had been on the prevailing side of the McWilliams’ confirmation vote. He then moved immediately for postponement until the Oct. 21 meeting and councilmembers supported that motion – so the council will take up the question of reconsideration at that time.

In other business, the council adopted an update to its solid waste plan, but not before amending the plan to remove mention of exploring the possibility of every-other-week trash pickup and pay-as-you-throw options in the future.

The council also considered two items related to hyper-local neighborhood infrastructure issues – cross-lot walkways and traffic calming projects.

Councilmembers gave initial approval to a change in the city’s sidewalk ordinance that would define certain walkways as “sidewalks.” The change will affect cross-lot walkways that connect streets with schools or parks, or streets with other streets. Defining these walkways as  “sidewalks” allows them to be eligible for funds from the sidewalk repair millage, but does not trigger winter maintenance responsibility for adjacent property owners.

The council also approved a budget allocation of $55,000 to fund an additional two traffic calming (speed bump) projects this year. The same resolution directed the funding of three traffic calming projects next year.

Two site plans were approved by the council – one for a Tim Hortons drive-thru on Ann Arbor-Saline road, and another for a Belle Tire on Ellsworth.

A new schedule of liquor license fees was approved by the council. In some cases fees were lowered or eliminated, and in other cases they were raised – to reflect actual city costs in processing. For example, on-premise liquor license annual renewal fees were set at $90, an increase from $50, while fees for new liquor licenses were set at $600, a reduction from $2,500.

The council also approved a grant application to the Rockefeller Foundation for designating Ann Arbor as one of 100 Resilient Cities. While the total amount of funding for the program is identified as $100 million, according to the Rockefeller Foundation, that does not mean that each of the 100 cities would receive $1 million of support if selected. [Full Story]

Five Traffic Calming Projects OK’d

An additional five traffic calming (speed bump) projects will be added to the city of Ann Arbor’s work plan over this year and the next as a result of city council action taken on Oct. 7, 2013.

Starting in 2010, the city had reduced the number of traffic calming studies that it would fund to just one per year. The Oct. 7 resolution transfers $55,000 from the city’s general fund to the local street fund, to pay for an additional two studies this year (FY 2014). In addition, the resolution directs city administrator Steve Powers to include three traffic calming projects in FY 2015. The five projects mentioned in the resolution are: South Boulevard (Ward 3 – qualified for traffic calming … [Full Story]

Oct. 7, 2013 Ann Arbor Council: Final

At least two topics on the council’s Oct. 7 agenda could offer potential points of friction: (1) leftover controversy from the confirmation of Al McWilliams to the board of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority at the council’s previous meeting on Sept. 16; and (2) adoption of an update to the city’s solid waste plan.

New sign on door to Ann Arbor city council chamber

The sign on the door to the Ann Arbor city council chamber, installed in the summer of 2013, includes Braille.

A resolution added to the agenda on Friday, Oct. 4 would, if approved, result in the waiver of attorney-client privilege with respect to a specific advice memo that has already been written by the city attorney’s office on the McWilliams appointment.

The memo responds to questions that were raised about the procedure used to appoint McWilliams to the DDA board. Mayor John Hieftje had asked the council to vote on McWilliams’ appointment after saying at a previous meeting that he was withdrawing the nomination. Under the council’s rules, an 8-vote majority is required for confirmation of an appointment when the nomination is made at the same meeting when the confirmation vote is taken. McWilliams was confirmed on a 6-5 vote.

It’s also possible that a motion could be put forward to reconsider McWilliams’ confirmation, in order to eliminate the procedural controversy. However, by the end of the weekend before the meeting, no such item had been added to the agenda.

The council will also be asked to adopt an update to its solid waste plan. [Waste Less: City of Ann Arbor Solid Waste Resource Plan] [Appendices to Waste Less] The update proposes a number of initiatives, including goals for increased recycling/diversion rates – both generally and for apartment buildings in particular. A pilot program would add all plate scrapings to the list of materials that can be placed in the brown carts used to collect compostable matter.

And if that pilot program is successful, the plan calls for exploring the possibility of reducing the frequency of curbside pickup – from the current weekly regime to a less frequent schedule. Also included in the draft plan is a proposal to relocate and upgrade the drop-off station at Platt and Ellsworth. The implementation of a fee for single-use bags at retail outlets is also part of the plan. [Previous Chronicle coverage: "Waste as Resource: Ann Arbor's Five-Year Plan."]

The solid waste plan update could face opposition from some councilmembers who don’t think it would be feasible or desirable to reduce the frequency of curbside trash pickup to once every two weeks.

The council will be asked to give initial consideration to a new definition of a sidewalk, covering so-called cross-lot walkways. Such walkways aren’t really on the “side” of anything. They connect a street to a park or school, or two parallel streets. The item had been up for final consideration at the council’s July 1, 2013 meeting, but it was postponed until Oct. 7.

In the meantime, the city’s approach to the cross-lot walkways has changed. Currently if an existing walkway meets the definition of a “sidewalk,” then the city bears responsibility for its repair for the duration of the sidewalk repair millage. All other things being equal, the adjacent property owner would be responsible for snow removal in the winter. The new approach, to be considered on Oct. 7, would allow the cross-lot walkways to qualify as sidewalks under the city’s ordinance, but not trigger a winter maintenance requirement for adjacent property owners. This fresh look would mean that any action taken on Oct. 7 would be considered only an initial approval of the ordinance change.

Land use is on the agenda in the form of two developments and one annexation.

Returning to the council’s agenda is the planned unit development (PUD) zoning for the Shell/Tim Hortons at the northeast corner of Ann Arbor-Saline Road and Eisenhower Parkway. The proposal for the 1.44-acre site would allow for a drive-thru restaurant within the existing convenience store, where a Tim Hortons is already located. The project includes constructing a 109-square-foot drive-thru window addition and access driveway on the north side of the building.

The council had given initial approval for changes to the project’s PUD supplemental regulations at its Sept. 3, 2013 meeting. That’s when Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) objected to including the drive-thru as a public benefit in the regulations: “To say that somebody now doesn’t have to spend the 10 extra calories between getting out of their car to get their salt-sugar-fat fix?! I don’t see that as a public benefit and I don’t want us to list that as some big thing that we’re modifying our zoning for in our ordinance.” On that occasion, the council modified the PUD regulations to accommodate his objection. The final approval of the PUD zoning as well as the site plan is on the council’s Oct. 7 agenda.

Councilmembers will also be asked to approve a site plan for Belle Tire on the north side of Ellsworth, adjacent to and east of a different Tim Hortons – one that’s located near the intersection with South State. The currently vacant 1-acre site will become a one-story, 9,735-square-foot auto service facility with 49 parking spaces, including 10 spaces located in service bays.

The council will also be asked to vote on a standard annexation from Ann Arbor Township to the city of Ann Arbor – a 0.39-acre site at 2640 Miller Ave.

Also on the Oct. 7 agenda is an item to approve a change to fees associated with liquor licenses. Some fees are being eliminated – those related to licenses for which the state of Michigan doesn’t require local review.

Other Oct. 7 agenda highlights include an allocation for more traffic calming studies and a resolution that would direct the city administrator to apply for a Rockefeller Foundation grant to make Ann Arbor one of 100 Resilient Cities.

More details on other meeting agenda items are available on the city’s Legistar system. Readers can also follow the live meeting proceedings on Channel 16, streamed online by Community Television Network. The Chronicle will be filing live updates from city council chambers during the meeting, published in this article “below the fold.” The meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. [Full Story]