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 has a number of public hearings, including an ordinance amendment (B-1) and tax abatement for an industrial development in Ward 4 (DC-1). Public hearings 3 through 8 cover various City fee adjustments, water and stormwater rates, and the FY 2023 Budget. According to the City Clerk’s office, all of the items in public hearings 3 through 8 will be voted on at the May 16th Council meeting.
Also on this agenda: nominations for Council Liaisons to the new Renters Commission. I am nominated as one of the liaisons, along with Council Member Travis Radina. I am excited about opportunities for this commission to discuss and recommend policy to address challenges facing tenants in Ann Arbor. I have some relevant experience with this issue: years ago as a law student, I volunteered with a nonprofit that directly represented tenants facing eviction in the city of Baltimore. I am committed to understanding what the City of Ann Arbor can do to protect the interests of tenants here. I look forward to working with this commission and with CM Radina, who is similarly motivated to reform City policy in support of renters in Ann Arbor.
STATE / HILL IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
On Tuesday I attended a public engagement meeting for the State and Hill Improvement Project. I am grateful for the resident who emailed me with concerns about the timing of this public engagement (mid-day at noon); that resident’s email was my first and only notice about this meeting. On Monday, I posted information about this meeting on my website and shared it on social media:
Residents within 1/16 of a mile (330 feet) of the improvement project were notified about the meeting and I was one of eight people in attendance. Seven people - three City staff and four consultants - led the presentations. At the end of the meeting, seven people participated in a survey about improvement priorities, preferred use of these corridors, and the potential removal of street parking on State (south of Hoover).
I am eager to see improvements in this area. When I went back to school to earn my masters degree at UM, I regularly biked across the many potholes on Hill and I often took the sidewalk where the street felt unsafe. I encourage anyone interested in following this project to find more information at the City’s webpage (note that you can sign up for emailed updates):
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
No donation necessary - let me know if you want a yard sign!
Any amount helps and shows your support!
Sunday May 1st 2:00pm
I hold coffee hours Sunday afternoons before City Council meetings. This week my coffee hours are at 2:00 PM at Roos Roast on 1155 Rosewood Ave.
City Council Regular Meeting
Thursday May 5th 7:00pm
Note that this week's meeting is on a Thursday. 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 on the northwest corner of Ward 4 (Dicken neighborhood), you are probably familiar with the crumbling asphalt path between the end of Runnymede and Pauline Boulevard. This path is a connector leading to Dicken Elementary School as well as to bus stops on Pauline, with the neighborhood of Norfolk and Suffolk in between.
I first learned about this path in 2018, when I was out campaigning and neighbors pointed it out to me. The first time I navigated it on my bike, I passed a father and a little boy (also on his bike) who eagerly told me that this path needed to be fixed because it was too “bumpy.” It really is in terrible condition.
A little history about this path: it appears on documents from 1973, when the Walden Village condominium complex to the north (on Pauline) was first built. The area around this path is owned by residents in a condo association, but the path is used by many more residents throughout the neighborhood. It functions a public resource, providing a community benefit. You can read more about this path and plans for its improvement in my "Additional Thoughts" section below.
Paths like this one are important connectors that help our community walk and bike efficiently and safely. It is a Ward 4 place 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 18, 2022
The voting chart I made for our most recent Council meeting.
A2Council.com Update for April 18, 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.
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.
Survey on Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) open until June 30 2022
The Ann Arbor Office of Sustainability and Innovations has created an online survey titled "Are you interested in advancing a Sustainable Energy Utility?"
Council Meeting Agenda 5/5/22
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-1 (22-0817) Agenda Response Memo and eComments - May 5, 2022
This agenda item has a PDF attachment with all questions raised by Council Members, and the answers provided by staff.
Communications from Council
CC-1 (22-0739) Resolution to Appoint Lunia Oriol and Stephen Brown to the Environmental Commission
These re-appointments are from CM Disch and CM Griswold, who serve on the Environmental Commission. These are being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting.
Lunia Oriol - Environmental Commission
Stephen Brown - Environmental Commission
CC-2 (22-0740) Resolution to Appoint Makiah Shipp, Bonnie Billups, and Randy Milgrom to the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission (7 Votes Required)
These re-appointments are from CM Ramlawi and CM Song, who serve on the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission, and CM Nelson and CM Radina, who serve on the Human Rights Commission. These are being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting.
Makiah Shipp - Independent Community Police Oversight Commission
Bonnie Billups - Independent Community Police Oversight Commission
Randy Milgrom - Independent Community Police Oversight Commission
CC-3 (22-0741) Resolution to Appoint Rosanne Bloomer and Deaver Armstrong to the Greenbelt Advisory Commission (7 Votes Required)
These re-appointments are from CM Grand, who serves on the Greenbelt Advisory Commission. These are being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting.
Rosanne Bloomer - Greenbelt Advisory Commission
Deaver Armstrong - Greenbelt Advisory Commission
CC-4 (22-0811) Resolution to Appoint Travis Radina and Elizabeth Nelson to the Renters Commission
This appointment from the Mayor is being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting.
Travis Radina - Renters Commission
Elizabeth Nelson - Renters Commission
Communications from the Mayor
MC-1 (22-0643) Nominations and Appointments for May 5, 2022
These 46 appointments from the Mayor are being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting. See the Legistar link for details.
MC-2 (22-0642) Resolution to Appoint Nonregistered Electors to Boards and Commissions (7 Votes Required)
This 7 appointments from the Mayor are being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting. 7 votes are required because the appointees are not registered electors of the City. See the Legistar link for details.
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 (22-0751) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for the 2022 Taste of Ann Arbor Special Event - Sunday, June 5, 2022
CA-2 (22-0754) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for Sonic Lunch - Thursdays, June 9, June 16, July 14 and August 25, 2022
CA-3 (22-0753) Resolution to Approve the 2022 Ann Arbor Jaycees Summer Carnival at Pioneer High School - June 20 to June 27, 2022
CA-4 (22-0698) Resolution to Approve Street Closing for The Event on Main - Thursday, June 16 - Friday, June 17, 2022
CA-5 (22-0752) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for the 2022 Rolling Sculpture Car Show - Friday, July 15, 2022
CA-6 (22-0686) Resolution to Approve Purchase of Greenbelt District Land, Approve a Participation Agreement with Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission, and Appropriate $692,867.00 for Purchase of Fee Title to the EN Maisel Associates, LLC Property (8 Votes Required)
CA-7 (22-0702) Resolution to Approve the Professional Services Agreement with Huron Valley Ambulance, Inc. for the Provision of a Basic Life Support Ambulance
CA-8 (22-0611) Resolution to Approve a Two-Year Service Agreement with Emergent Health Partners for Ann Arbor Fire Department Dispatch and Related Services ($280,288.44)
CA-9 (22-0645) Resolution Levying Certain Delinquent Municipal Solid Waste, Board Up, Clean Up, Vacant Property Inspection Fees, Housing Inspection Fees, False Alarm Fees, and Fire Inspection Fees as Special Assessments and Ordering Collection Thereof
CA-10 (22-0646) Resolution to Assess Certain Delinquent Municipal Utility Charges as a Tax and Ordering Collection Thereof
CA-11 (22-0350) Resolution to Approve the Purchase of Residential and Special Use Water Meters from Badger Meter, Inc. (Not to exceed $125,000.00 annually ITB No. 4708)
CA-12 (22-0586) Resolution to Approve a Professional Services Agreement with Perceptive Controls, Inc. for the Tertiary Filter Programmable Logic Controller Replacement Project at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, RFP No. 22-14 ($272,750.00)
CA-13 (22-0628) Resolution to Award a Construction Contract to Fonson Company, Inc. ($1,250,972.00, Bid No. ITB-4705) for the 2022 Valve Replacement Project
CA-14 (22-0632) Resolution to Approve a Construction Contract with Bailey Excavating, Inc. for the 2022 Miscellaneous Utility Project ($1,722,742.98)
CA-15 (22-0636) Resolution to Award a Construction Contract to Cadillac Asphalt, LLC (RFP No. 22-26, $6,930,000.00) for the 2022 Street Resurfacing Project, and to Appropriate $500,000.00 from the Stormwater Fund, $60,000.00 from the Local Street Fund, $30,000.00 from the Sewage Disposal Fund, $66,400.00 from the Water Supply System Fund and $15,000.00 Sidewalk Construction Millage Fund (8 Votes Required)
CA-16 (22-0655) Resolution to Award a Construction Contract to Doan Construction Co. for the 2022 Sidewalk Gap Elimination Project ($446,858.15)
CA-17 (22-0659) Resolution to Approve a Debt Service Agreement with the Downtown Development Authority for a Contribution to the 350 S. Fifth Avenue Debt Service
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 (22-0647) 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 (ORD-22-09)
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.
PH-2/DC-2 (22-0600) Resolution to Approve Industrial Facilities Exemption Certificate between the City of Ann Arbor and Sartorius BioAnalytical Instruments
An Industrial Facilities Exemption certificate for Sartorius BioAnalytical Instruments will permit a 12-year abatement of local taxes up to $54,587,000 of real property site improvements and up to $8,943,000 of personal property. An Industrial Development. District was previously established for Sartorius at 3874 Research Park Drive, making them eligible for local tax abatement.
The following public hearings will NOT be voted on at this meeting. These are part of the FY 2023 budget that will be voted on at the May 16th Council meeting.
PH-3 (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 (ORD-22-07)
The City’s water rates will increase by 6% on July 1, 2022. See the Legistar link for full details.
PH-4 (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 (ORD-22-08)
The City’s stormwater rates will increase by 4% on July 1, 2022. See the Legistar link for full details.
PH-5 (22-0607) Resolution to Approve FY 2023 Fee Adjustments for the Community Services Area
Fees for the Community Services area would be adjusted for FY 2023. A new $50 fee per lot (and/or per 1000 sq. feet) will apply to site plans. There will be new fees for permit application assistance, inspection processing, and paper applications.
PH-6 (22-0640) Resolution to Approve Fiscal Year 2023 Fee Adjustments for Public Services Area - Engineering, Systems Planning, Public Works, and Water Treatment Units
Fees for the Public Services areas - Engineering, Systems Planning, Public Works, and Water Treatment Units - would be adjusted for FY 2023. Examples of such fees: engineering inspections, right of way permits, residential parking permits, staff review of planning petitions, bulk water, solid waste, and microbiological tests (see Legistar link for complete list). These fee adjustments are expected to increase revenue by an estimated $152,298.
PH-7 (22-0577) Resolution to Approve FY 2023 Fee Adjustments for the Fire Department
Fees for the fire department would be adjusted for FY 2023. Fees for annual liquor and marijuana licenses and inspection services have not increased since 2018. The increases reflect the cost of service and higher expenses such as labor, materials and supplies, equipment, and overhead costs.
PH-8 (22-0699) Resolution to Adopt Ann Arbor City Budget and Related Property Tax Millage Rates for Fiscal Year 2023
As part of the annual budget process, this is a public hearing on the City’s proposed budget for FY 2023, which will be voted on at the May 18th Council Meeting. General Fund recurring expenses have increased by 3.4% ($3,915,640) compared to FY 2022's adopted budget; recurring revenues have increased by 4.5% ($5,075,679). The FY 2023 budget includes a total of 16 additional full time employees (FTE) in City departments: Parks & Rec, Building & Rental, Public Services, City Attorney, Police, Fire, and Downtown Development Authority. Ten additional FTE’s will be permitted on a temporary basis as part of the workforce planning initiative.
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 (22-0647) 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.
There are no ordinance first readings on the agenda.
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 (22-0600) is the same as PH-2 above.
DC-2 (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 (postponed from the 4/18/22 agenda) has been amended to direct the City Administrator to facilitate communication to City employees and residents about various organizations that provide access to low and moderate income mortgages. The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (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: https://www.naca.com/purchase/
DC-3 (22-0789) Resolution in Support of Michigan House Bill 5931
This resolution addresses the Michigan No-Fault Auto Insurance Reform Act of 2019 that was implemented last July. That legislation reduced the required rate of reimbursement to long-term care and post-acute rehabilitation facilities for victims of motor vehicle crashes. New reimbursement caps have had made it impossible for Michigan residents with severe brain, spinal cord, and other catastrophic injuries to find necessary care. This resolution endorses the efforts of our own State Representative Yousef Rabhi (State House Bill 5931) to fully repeal the 2019 law in anticipation of further reforms that enable the continued care of auto crash survivors and would address other discriminatory aspects of the law.
DC-4 (22-0803) Resolution to Negotiate an Easement for Runnymede-Pauline Path
The City Administrator is directed to negotiate a public easement with Walden Village Condominiums for the asphalt path between Runnymede and Pauline Boulevard. Easement terms will be negotiated ahead of application deadlines for Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant funds. See my "Additional Thoughts" section below.
I also published this on my website:
Residents in the Dicken neighborhood of Ward 4 tell me that they are happy to see agenda item DC-4, which is a first step toward repairing a pedestrian path between Runnymede and Pauline. I am especially excited to see this item on our agenda because it is the result of many emails, conversations, and meetings I have had over the last three years with City staff, AAPS staff, and local residents. Like so many local issues, the best solutions happen when all stakeholders are engaged.
Below is a map with the Runnymede path highlighted in yellow:
I started meeting with City staff about this path in 2019. City staff was generous with their time, meeting with me to discuss the history of this path as well as the estimated cost of repair. Given its proximity to Dicken Elementary, I also reached out to Ann Arbor Public Schools, who confirmed that improvements would create a safer walking zone for Dicken students and AAPS would be “grateful” for any City efforts toward repairing it. By 2020, conversations about this path had stalled and we were in the midst of the pandemic — at that time, Council Members were urged not to propose any new projects because staff was so overwhelmed and our budget was uncertain.
Last summer, I revisited the topic of this path. I went to the County building downtown and looked up the original 1973 master deed in their archives. City attorneys later confirmed: the path was not in a City right-of-way and it originated with the condo complex on Pauline Boulevard.
The path is not currently a City right-of-way, but it appears on page 61 of the 2021 Moving Together Toward Vision Zero Comprehensive Transportation Plan as a proposed “all ages and abilities” route.
This transportation plan was approved by Council on June 7, 2021:
This path is recognized as an important connector in the neighborhood, but the City is not currently responsible for its maintenance or upkeep. Repair of this path has been estimated to cost upwards of $400,000.
The City of Ann Arbor recognizes the value of public funding for infrastructure to support non-motorized transit. In 2011, voters in Ann Arbor approved a millage to fund the repair of sidewalks in the public right-of-way. In 2020, voters in Ann Arbor approved a millage to fund the construction of new sidewalks. The premise of both of these millages: the community benefit of safe pedestrian access should not depend on a property owner’s ability to pay a City assessment. Most recently (and for similar reasons), Council has discussed City-funded sidewalk snow removal.
There is precedent for the City negotiating easements to improve pedestrian access: last October, Council unanimously approved an easement on Stimson Street, to fill a significant sidewalk gap in Ward 4. In that case, the City actually spent $5,000 to compensate the property owner for the easement. You can read about that here:
City responsibility for neighborhood connectors like the path between Runnymede and Pauline also has precedent: last summer, City Council voted to accept four such connectors in Ward 4:
I wrote about these connector walks at the time, including a copy of the letter that was sent to affected residents:
Staff summary of that action included explanation that:
Acceptance by the City of these sidewalks will enable the City to utilize the Street, Bridge, and Sidewalk Millage approved by voters in 2020 to make future repairs as needed to these connector walks. The acceptance would specifically exempt adjacent owners from responsibility for repair and snow and ice removal on such connector sidewalks.
A few weeks ago, I had conversations with two board members for the condo association that owns this path. They explained that a representative from the City had contacted their association about the path and demanded that the association spend $400,000 to fix it. When the condo association president proposed a transfer/easement so that this path could become a City right-of-way, he was told that the association must first spend $400,000 to fix it. Members of the condo association made clear: foisting this overwhelming expense on this particular community (one of the more moderately priced housing communities in Ann Arbor) basically guarantees that the path will never actually get fixed.
This month, I met with our City Administrator, Milton Dohoney, to talk about the Ward 4 interest in seeing this path come under City control so that we can rehabilitate and maintain it as a neighborhood connector. He directed me to work with City CFO Marti Praschan on a budget amendment.
This past week, Ms. Praschan organized and led a meeting with me and City engineer, Nick Hutchinson — Mr. Hutchinson lives in Ward 4 and is well aware of the Runnymede/Pauline path and its poor condition. He explained that the City has already prepared a legal description of the path for the purposes of an easement, and he had discussed it with the head of our Transportation department, Raymond Hess (also a Ward 4 resident!). Mr. Hutchinson and Mr. Hess agree that the location of this path makes it eligible for funding through state Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) grants. Ms. Praschan confirmed: we have City Budget available to cover matching funds for these TAP grants. However, in order to get this grant funding (and prioritize rehabilitation/repair), the path must be under City control in advance of grant application deadlines at the end of June.
Agenda item DC-4 is an example of what can be accomplished when your local government is focused on meeting the needs of residents. I am grateful for all the work of City staff in crafting a solution to the long-standing problem of this deteriorated path. A City easement will put this path under City control so that we can apply for grant money and actually get it fixed! I am eager to see this path fixed for the benefit of many neighborhood residents who use it to access Dicken Elementary and bus stops on Pauline.
Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!
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