Welcome to everyone who is new to this newsletter! Before every Council meeting, I write up my own summary of each agenda item and try to pull details that I think are most relevant to understanding them. My hope is that these summaries can help residents keep track of what City Council is doing. For issues that matter to you, I encourage you to follow links (next to each agenda item) to the City's Legistar website, where you can find all the background information.
This week’s agenda includes several topics related to City finances. First, City Administrator Milton Dohoney will be presenting the FY 2023 City Budget. Agenda items C-1 and C-2 are first readings of proposals to increase water rates (6%) and increase stormwater rates (4%). In item DS-1, the City would issue up to $15 million in 2022 Michigan Transportation Fund Bonds to finance road repair and reconstruction projects.
The Consent Agenda includes several items relevant to Ward 4: additional environmental services for remediation of the City property at 2000 S. Industrial (CA-4) and more environmental assessments for proposed extension of a runway at the Ann Arbor Airport (CA-5 and CA-6).
I am co-sponsoring two items on this agenda this week: a resolution for the City to understand and promote a program in support of homeownership (DC-1) and updates to our anti-discrimination ordinance (C-3).
SUPPORT MY RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN
I am running for re-election to Council in 2022 and would really appreciate your generous support! I need your help to promote transparency, accountability, and serious representation for Ward 4. Our local democracy matters!
Endorse, Host a Party, Walk Doors, Phone Calls
I started distributing yard signs this month
Any amount helps and shows your support!
Sunday April 17th 3:00pm
I hold coffee hours Sunday afternoons at 3pm before City Council meetings. Due to the holiday I will be holding them on Zoom this week. Please email me for a link: contact@A2ELNEL.com
City Council Regular Meeting
Monday April 18th 7:00pm
Council Meetings are in person at City Council chambers. Public commentary is available either in person or via phone - see the Legistar link for details.
Ward 4 People & Places You Should Know
If you live in the Burns Park neighborhood of Ward 4, you already know about Argus Farm Stop (1200 Packard). This location opened in 2017 and in March of this year expanded into the former vacuum store down the block at 1226 Packard. Argus offers a remarkable opportunity for local residents to access fresh produce from local farmers, 365 days a year. Owners Kathy Sample and Bill Brinkerhoff are committed to two goals: 1) increasing our community’s access to local produce and 2) supporting local farmers by providing a convenient outlet for sales that pays the farmers 70% of the price of the products. (The traditional grocery model pays farmers 15%.)
I first collaborated with Argus Farm Stop in 2019, when Kathy and Bill asked for my help in establishing 30 minute parking stops on Dewey Avenue, for customers visiting the business on their way in or out of town. In the early months of the pandemic, Argus Farm Stop was a topic of conversation again, when I worked with local advocates to craft a resolution in support of low-income residents who use EBT cards. During those very challenging months of isolation in 2020, advocates told me: Argus Farm Stop was one of our most supportive local groceries, doing everything possible to get groceries to their customers.
Last week, I visited Argus Farm Stop and toured their expanded operations: a dedicated cafe at the corner of Dewey/Packard and an expanded grocery/produce store on the same block to the south. In the course of my tour, I learned about produce basket subscriptions that Argus offers for $30 a week (see picture below). The baskets are available for pickup at both Argus Farm Stop locations (1226 Packard and 325 W. Liberty) and Cahoots downtown (206 E. Huron). Local delivery costs $5.
I was especially excited to learn: the Argus weekly produce baskets are available at a deep discount ($3.75) to anyone who uses EBT cards. Their cafe margins help with their model and the cafe provides a community space to the neighborhood. Kathy and Bill are eager for more people to be aware of this business model and teach a course on it. Argus Farm Stop is also deeply committed to providing locally grown, healthy food to people who might not otherwise have access to it through the Double Up Food Bucks Program. What a wonderful program!
Argus Farm Stop is a special example of what can happen in our community to support the goals of sustainability and equity. If you haven’t visited this block of Lower Burns Park recently enough to see the newly expanded Argus operations on Packard, I highly recommend that you check it out. This is a place that you should know!
A2ELNEL.com Website Updates
In addition to writing this newsletter, I post updates to my website with my perspectives on how issues were resolved at City Council and details on how Council voted at each meeting. I also post information about meetings and issues that affect Ward 4 residents, along with news that affects all city residents.
City Council Voting Chart for April 4, 2022
The voting chart I made for our most recent Council meeting.
A2Council.com Update for April 4, 2022
My summary of agenda items of interest from our most recent Council meeting, along with articles I've written, articles published on MLive, links to Legistar, and CTN's YouTube video.
Right To Renew Initiative
Ann Arbor Rising for Tenants (AART) has launched a new campaign in support of more protections for tenants: a “right to renew” or “just cause” for eviction.
FreeTree Giveaway April 23 2022 (Registration Opens April 15)
The City will be holding a FreeTree Giveaway as part of the 10,000 Trees Initiative. Registration is required.
City Parks Open Space Survey Open Until June 5 2022
The City of Ann Arbor is updating the Parks and Recreation Open Space (PROS) Plan to identify goals, needs, trends and priorities for the next five years and beyond.
FY2023 Budget Process Update: Video Presentations
Seven pre-recorded presentations have been loaded to the City's website, in lieu of the traditional Council budget work sessions that included public comment. According to process, the City Administrator will present his recommended fiscal year 2023 budget to City Council on April 18, 2022.
Council Meeting Agenda 4/18/22
Below is my summary of some issues on the City Council Agenda this week, with links to more information about each of them. If you have comments about any of these issues, feel free to email me at my official City email: ENelson@A2gov.org
The full agenda (including a link to the latest published PDF agenda) is on the A2Gov Legistar website:
City Council meetings are broadcast live by CTN on Comcast (channel 16) and AT&T (channel 99). They are also streamed live on YouTube and Viebit: https://www.youtube.com/user/ctnannarbor
Questions to the Agenda
In preparation for a Council meeting, Council members can ask questions of staff about scheduled agenda items. Questions must be submitted by noon on the Wednesday before a Council Meeting, and answers are returned the next day (Thursday) by 5pm.
AC-3 (22-0708) Agenda Response Memo and eComments - April 18, 2022
This agenda item has a PDF attachment with all questions raised by Council Members, and the answers provided by staff.
Communications from the Mayor
MC-1 (22-0588) Appointments - Confirmations
This appointment from the Mayor was presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting.
Karen Wanza - Housing and Human Services Advisory Board
Below is the list of items included on the Consent Agenda. If no one on Council specifically requests that an item be pulled for discussion, the whole of this list will be approved in a single vote. I encourage you to look at this list and offer suggestions to me about anything you would like to see pulled for discussion.
CA-1 (22-0641) Resolution to Approve the Closing of Streets for the 2022 Glacier Highlands Neighborhood Association Annual Memorial Day Parade, Monday, May 30, 2022
CA-2 (22-0644) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for the 2022 Ann Arbor Summer Festival’s “Top of the Park” - June 4, 2022 through July 6, 2022
CA-3 (22-0587) Resolution to Approve a Construction Contract with Rauhorn Electric, Inc. for the Veterans Memorial Park Skatepark Lighting Project ($269,955.00) (ITB 4707)
CA-4 (22-0403) Resolution to Approve Amendment 1 to the Professional Services Agreement with Atlas Technical Consultants LLC for Additional Environmental Services at 2000 S. Industrial Highway and to Appropriate Funding in the Amount of $100,000.00 from the Water Supply System Fund Balance (8 Votes Required)
CA-5 (22-0583) Resolution to Approve Amendment 2 to the Professional Services Agreement for Work Related to the Environmental Assessment Study for the Safety Extension of Runway 6/24 at the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport with Mead & Hunt Inc. ($156,765.71)
CA-6 (22-0581) Resolution to Approve a Grant Contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation for Work Related to the Environmental Assessment Study for the Safety Extension of Runway 6/24 at the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport ($156,766.00)
CA-7 (22-0606) Resolution to Approve the Purchase of Vehicles from Signature Ford (MiDeal - $240,585.00)
CA-8 (22-0601) Resolution to Amend Two Purchase Orders with Bell Equipment Company for Electric Refuse Trucks ($10,000.00)
CA-9 (22-0575) Resolution to Approve a Purchase Order for the Rental of Refuse Trucks from Premier Truck Sales & Rental Inc. (Sourcewell - NTE $171,600.00)
CA-10 (22-0555) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 1 to the Professional Services Agreement with Tetra Tech of Michigan, PC, for Water Treatment Professional Engineering Services ($550,000.00 increase, total contract $1,050,000.00)
CA-11 (22-0488) Resolution to Approve a Construction Contract with Z Contractors, Inc. for the Huron Parkway Bridge Capital Preventative Maintenance Repairs ($657,446.51)
CA-12 (22-0544) Resolution to Award a Construction Contract to SAK Construction, LLC ($1,048,468.00, Bid No. ITB-4704) for the 2022 Sewer Lining Project
CA-13 (22-0582) Resolution to Approve a Construction Contract with E.T. MacKenzie Company for the Stadium/Washtenaw Area Utility Improvements Project ($1,829,900.00)
CA-14 (22-0547) Resolution to Approve an Amendment to the Pharmacy Benefit Management Agreement with Express Scripts Inc. ($9,397,954.00)
CA-15 (22-0548) Resolution to Approve Amendment to Member Services Agreement with Keenan & Associates ($88,000.00)
CA-16 (22-0539) Resolution to Authorize Settlement of Roth and Spaly v. Neighbors, Inc., the Ann Arbor Housing Commission, and the City of Ann Arbor, 22nd Circuit Court, Case No. 22-000282-CB
Anyone wanting to comment on these issues may speak for 3 minutes, without having specifically reserved time. Issues subject to public hearing will also be up for a vote by Council later in the meeting.
PH-1/B-1 (22-0222) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Zoning), Rezoning of 0.5 Acre from TWP (Township District) to R1B (Single-Family District), Wilson-Barry Property, 614 Riverview Drive, (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 9 Yeas and 0 Nays) (ORD-22-05)
A 0.5 acre parcel at 614 Riverview Drive was recently annexed into the City. This ordinance will rezone the property from TWP (township) to R1B (Single-family district). The R1B zoning is consistent with the adjacent zoning, the surrounding land uses, and the City's comprehensive land use plan.
Ordinances - Second Reading
In order to amend the city code, Council must vote to approve the change, via ordinance, at two Council meetings. The following proposed ordinances were approved at a previous Council meeting, and are also subject to a public hearing as listed above.
B-1 (22-0222) is the same as PH-1 above.
Ordinances - First Reading
In order to amend the city code, Council must vote to approve the change, via ordinance, at two Council meetings. The following proposed ordinances are being introduced for "first reading". If approved, the ordinance will be voted on at a subsequent Council meeting ("second reading"), where it will also be subject to a public hearing.
C-1 (22-0592) An Ordinance to Amend Section 2:63 of Chapter 29 (Water Rates) of Title II of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
The City’s water rates will increase by 6% on July 1, 2022. See the Legistar link for full details - I made a table of the current and proposed rates:
C-2 (22-0585) An Ordinance to Amend Section 2:69 of Chapter 29 (Stormwater Rates) of Title II of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor
The City’s stormwater rates will increase by 4% on July 1, 2022. See the Legistar link for full details - I made a table of the current and proposed rates:
C-3 (22-0647) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 112 (Non-Discrimination), Sections 9:150, 9:151, 9:156, and 9:159, Title IX of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor To Update Definitions of Gender Expression, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation; Reorder Definitions; Add Definition of Religion to Include Prohibition Against Religious-Based Hair and Head Coverings Discrimination; and To Remove Requirement that Complaint be Filed within 180 Days
The City’s Non-Discrimination ordinance would be amended to clarify that “religion” may include hairstyles and religious head coverings. Definitions related to Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sexual Orientation will change in order to match language in the Conversion Therapy Ban Ordinance. Amendments also lift the requirement that complaints be filed within 180 days.
Motions and Resolutions
The following agenda items are motions and resolutions, which are approved or rejected in a single meeting. Agenda items marked "DC" are proposed by Council members, items marked "DB" are proposed by City boards and commissions, items marked "DS" are proposed by City staff.
DC-1 (22-0690) Resolution for the City of Ann Arbor to Sponsor Information on the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) Mortgages to City Employees and Residents
This resolution directs the City Administrator to enter discussions with and report back to Council regarding the nonprofit Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA). The NACA administers a HUD-approved program for home ownership that finances loans for single-family home mortgages. with no down-payment, no closing costs, no mortgage insurance, and no credit score requirements at reduced interest rates. In Ann Arbor, NACA could fund mortgages as high as $484,350. Such mortgages are available to families below the area median household income; in Ann Arbor, the area median income is $106,600 for a family of four. NACA can also provide Rehab Escrow on loans to allow purchase of a home in need of repairs. For more information, see:
DC-2 (22-0706) Resolution to Extend the Days of the Main Street Area Ann Arbor Social District
Last fall (8/16/21), Council established a Main Street Social District to allow participating establishments with liquor licenses to serve food and alcohol in a shared, common space outdoors. At that time, the social district was approved to be in effect on select days: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 4:00 PM to 11:00 PM. This amendment to the Main Street Social District will allow for service seven days a week: Sunday through Saturday from 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm each day.
DS-1 (22-0610) Resolution Authorizing 2022 Michigan Transportation Fund Bonds (Not to Exceed $15,000,000.00) (General Obligation - Limited Tax) (7 Votes Required)
The City would approve the issuance of up to $15,000,000 in Michigan Transportation Fund Bonds, which will be paid back over ten years with revenue from the Michigan Transportation Fund. The bonds will fund road repair and reconstruction projects.
This week, I connected with a number of residents for conversation about various neighborhood concerns. One example: last Wednesday, I joined Lawton neighbors in attending a “walk-through” meeting to discuss planned improvements to the Churchill Downs park. I have been posting about this project on my website since July 2020 - this meeting was announced in my last newsletter:
The primary goal of this project is to create a stormwater basin that can collect and hold water during big storm events. Worth noting: this basin is expected to remain empty/dry in between storm events.
The playground at Churchill Downs will be closed for much of this summer season, with a supervisor on-site to field questions. Anyone interested in signing up for emailed bulletins about this project should reach out to Harry Sheehan at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be added to his update list. Communication from Mr. Sheehan about this project has been excellent! There is also a webpage of information here:
When completed, this project will provide a new (and resident-requested) pedestrian path, connecting the western edge of Lawton to Scio Church Road, through the park. This path is a very good example of where and how residents can engage with City decision making to provide helpful, neighborhood perspective!
In the last few months, a number of residents have reached out to me to inquire about the status of another project nearby: water main, pavement, and other safety improvements to Scio Church between Seventh and Maple. The timeline for that project is still unknown and the City is waiting to hear from MDOT. I am assured that when details are confirmed, the City will update information on its webpage:
One more thing…
I learned this week that April is Distracted Driving Awareness month. Coincidentally, my son (Henry) recently filmed a public service announcement on this topic for a class he is taking. I am the star of Henry's video, which - in my completely unbiased opinion - turned out pretty well! You can watch it here:
Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!
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