City Council Newsletter (Feb 17, 2019)

Hello neighbors!

This week on City Council, we have a long consent agenda, one public hearing, three first-readings of ordinance amendments, and some new/unfinished business that includes approval of a site plan and revisiting a greenbelt purchase. Due to the holiday Monday, this week’s meeting is on Tuesday, Feb 19th.


Before I jump into my summary of items on the agenda, I’d like to invite you to my coffee hours today (Sunday) from 3-4:30 p.m. at RoosRoast on Rosewood. I hope this is a convenient opportunity for us to meet in person and hear perspectives.



A few more updates…

Quiet Zone Report and Survey

A report has been released and a survey made available, to register your opinion about creating a “Quiet Zone” for train movements through the city. Residents have shared concerns with me and this is your chance to have them counted in a survey!

I posted more information about this on my website, including links to the report and the survey: https://www.a2elnel.com/blog/quiet-zone-assessment-results-and-online-survey-now-available

More information can be found on the City's Transportation page: https://www.a2gov.org/departments/systems-planning/planning-areas/transportation/Pages/default.aspx

Permanent Absentee Voter List

With the passage of Proposal 3 in November, voters are no longer required to provide a reason for requesting an absentee ballot. The City of Ann Arbor has simplified the process for enrolling in the City’s Permanent Absentee Voter List. Voters on this list automatically receive an application for an absentee ballot in the mail approximately 60 days prior to each election. Once the Clerk’s Office receives the completed absentee ballot application, a ballot is mailed out as soon as possible, generally about 30 days before the election and on a daily basis thereafter.

I posted more information about this on my website: https://www.a2elnel.com/blog/all-residents-can-now-register-to-vote-absentee

If you are interested in signing up to be on the Permanent Absentee Voter List, an online request form is available on the City Clerk's website: https://www.a2gov.org/departments/city-clerk/Elections/Pages/Permanent-Absentee-Voter-Form.aspx


Important Ward 4 News…

Scio Church Service Drive Traffic Calming

The Scio Church Service Drive project area is now moving forward in the Traffic Calming Program, and two meetings are scheduled.

I posted more information about these meetings on my website: https://www.a2elnel.com/blog/scio-church-service-drive-traffic-calming-meetings

Meeting #1 (Orientation) Thursday February 21 (6:15-8:15 PM) Dicken Elementary School - Multipurpose Room 2135 Runnymede Blvd

This orientation will include an overview of the Program and discussion of areas of concern and opportunity. (Alternate Date in case of extreme weather: Thursday Feb 28 in Larcom City Hall basement conference room, 301 E Huron St)

Meeting #2 (On-Site) Tuesday March 12 (5:30 - 6:30 PM) Starting in front of 2021 S Seventh St

This on-site walking meeting will include review and discussion of proposed traffic calming devices and locations. (Alternate Date in case of extreme weather: Thursday March 21 at same location)



A reminder about a few city resources:

A2 Fix It  This is an online system for alerting the city to problems in your neighborhood (e.g. potholes, graffiti, garbage pickup). This is the city’s preferred method for hearing your complaint so they can direct appropriate staff to address it. I’m happy to hear from you, too, but city staff tell me that the online A2FixIt system is actually the quickest and fastest way to get a response to the problem. Information about A2FixIt  (and explanation of more urgent issues and appropriate numbers to call) is here: https://www.a2gov.org/services/pages/report-a-problem.aspx

City News and Announcements  This is a helpful link to updates on events and opportunities in Ann Arbor through City Hall: https://www.a2gov.org/news/pages/default.aspx

City Department Updates  If you have specific interests related to the city’s work, e.g. construction projects, deer management, recycling, you can subscribe to receive emailed updates on various topics found here: https://www.a2gov.org/services/Pages/E-mailAlertSubscription.aspx

Volunteer Boards and Commissions  Membership on these Boards and Commissions is constantly changing as terms end and appointees step down. We need you! You can find openings at the following link (or contact me directly) https://a2gov.granicus.com/boards/w/fe6c5e22e6f4a331/vacancies


HIGHLIGHTS Council Meeting Agenda 2/19/19

Below is my summary of some issues on the City Council Agenda this week, with links to more information about each of them. Note that due to the holiday Monday, this week’s meeting is on Tuesday.

The full agenda in PDF format (along with links to each proposed ordinance/resolution) can be found on the A2Gov Legistar website here: https://a2gov.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=655999&GUID=C47EB41B-40CD-4665-8CE9-E13CDF9C3118&Options=info&Search=

If you have comments about any of these issues, feel free to email me at my official City email:  ENelson@A2gov.org

Public hearings

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/DB-2 (19-0017) Resolution to Approve 830 Henry Street Site Plan and Development Agreement, 814-830 Henry Street (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 9 Yeas and 0 Nays) According to this site plan in Ward 4, developers would demolish three structures and combine four lots for a 26,000 square foot structure: three stories, eleven rental units (each six bedrooms). The building will have 18 parking spots (the developer plans a shuttle service and ride-share vehicles for residents).

Unfinished/New Business

C-1 (19-0132)  An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Rezoning of 3.77 Acres from PUD (Planned Unit Development District) to PUD (Planned Unit Development District), Malletts Wood 1 & 2 PUD Zoning and Supplemental Regulations, 3300 Cardinal Avenue (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 9 Yeas and 0 Nays) A property at 3300 Cardinal Avenue (east of Mary Beth Doyle park) would be zoned single-family.  This ordinance would rezone the 3.77 acre site from PUD (Planned Unit Development District) to R1E (Single-Family Dwelling District) to allow development of single-family detached homes. 

C-2 (19-0163) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Rezoning of 3.52 Acres from R1C (Single-Family Residential District) to PUD (Planned Unit Development District), Lockwood of Ann Arbor PUD Zoning and Supplemental Regulations, 3365 Jackson Road (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 6 Yeas and 1 Nays) A property at 3365 Jackson Road (overlooking Dolph Park) would be granted PUD zoning to permit a 106,245 square foot, 95 unit senior living facility with 65 parking places. This would be a rezoning of 3.52 Acres that are currently R1C (Single-Family Residential District). I've written more about this in my "Additional Thoughts" section below.

C-3 (19-0271) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 8 (Organization of Boards and Commissions), Section 1:210, Title I of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor to Allow Council to Waive City Employment Restriction (Independent Community Police Oversight Commission) The ordinance creating the Independent Civilian Police Oversight Commission would be amended to allow appointment of current city staff (with a seven vote approval from Council). I do not agree with this amendment and I wrote more about it on this website last week: https://www.a2elnel.com/blog/police-oversight-on-the-feb-19th-council-agenda

DC-1 (19-0201) Resolution to Appoint Diana Cass to the Human Rights Commission (7 Votes Required) This appointment requires seven votes because the applicant is not a city resident.

DC-2 (18-2100) Resolution to Amend the Old West Side Residential Parking District - West Mosley Street and Appropriate General Fund Unobligated Fund Balance ($1,000.00) (8 Votes Required) An existing residential parking district will be expanded to include a stretch of Mosley Street at 309-415.  The City will spend $1000 installing signs and expects additional annual revenue of $450 from new residential permit fees.  The Old West Side Association supports the change.

DC-3 (19-0284) Resolution Establishing Center of the City Task Force A nine member task force to consider the future of the "Library Lot" would be appointed by City Council, based on nominations from the CMs seated on the Parks Advisory Commission.  The task force would include stakeholders such as immediate neighbors, near downtown 1st and 5th Ward residents, planners with experience designing open space, supporters of the concept of the center of the city, and other broad categories of residents. A designated staff person would support their efforts in planning and generating a report by February 28, 2020.

DC-4 (19-0299) Resolution to Direct the City Attorney to Stay Proceedings in Peters Building Co. and Robert Weber v. City of Ann Arbor, Case No. 18-822-NZ, in Order for City Council to Consider an Alternative Site Plan A property at 2857 Packard has been the subject of a lawsuit because the city denied a 2017 site plan due to its impact on natural features (e.g. landmark trees, wooded areas).  Current court proceedings would be suspended and developers would be granted a PUD zoning exception.  As part of the PUD zoning exception, the same number of single family units would be built but some of them would be attached in a configuration that preserves more natural features. (Current zoning requires that these single family units be detached.)

DC-5 (19-0279) Resolution Supporting the Compliance of the Process to Identify and Appoint Members to Independent Community Police Oversight Commission with City Ordinance I brought this resolution to prompt Council discussion about the need for compliance with the ordinance establishing the Independent Civilian Police Oversight Commission. I wrote more about this resolution on this website last week: https://www.a2elnel.com/blog/police-oversight-on-the-feb-19th-council-agenda

DC-6 (19-0300) Resolution to Amend Council Rules 1, 5B, 5D, 5E, and 5F The most significant proposed changes would adjust the timeline of Council’s preparation for meetings by shifting the planning timeline earlier for Staff. In a previous newsletter I explained the current timeline: https://www.a2elnel.com/blog/city-council-agenda-timeline-questions-to-the-agenda Currently, Staff sends a tentative agenda to the Administrative Committee ten days before a meeting, but can continue to add to that agenda right up until the Friday before a meeting. The proposed rules change would set the agenda earlier, giving Council the same amount of time to submit questions, but a full weekend (rather than a couple hours) to read responses to those questions.

DB-1 (18-2188) Resolution to Approve the Purchase of a Conservation Easement on the Lepkowski Property in Northfield Township and to Appropriate $478,867 (8 Votes Required) The city would purchase approximately 75 acres of farmland in Northfield Township using $478,867.00 of Open Space and Parkland Preservation millage funds, as recommended by the Greenbelt Advisory Commission.  This purchase was previously voted down by Council (1/7/19), brought back (1/22/19) and postponed to allow neighboring townships time to offer support.  This week, the Northfield Board of Trustees pledged $2,000 contribution toward the purchase. I've written more about this in my "Additional Thoughts" section below.

DB-2 was described above in the "Public Hearings" section

DS-1 (18-1331) Resolution to Authorize a Professional Services Agreements with Orchard, Hiltz & McCliment, Inc. (OHM) for the Lower Town Area Mobility Study (RFP No. 18-21) ($579,478.00) and Appropriate Funding from the Major Street Fund Balance ($649,478.00) (8 Votes Required) Postponed from the 11/19/18 meeting, this revisits the Lower Town traffic study proposal, after staff was directed to provide more consideration/negotiation re: cost.  Aspects of the original proposal have been adjusted with the consultant, e.g. there will be four public engagement meetings (instead of five) and some in-person meetings between City Staff and consultants will be replaced with conference calls. Proposed changes reduce the cost of the study from $662,992 to $579,478. Note: this was also on the 1/22/19 agenda (postponed to this meeting).

Consent Agenda

Below is the list of items included on tomorrow’s 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.



Additional thoughts…

Since our last meeting, I’ve received emails mostly on two topics: the Lockwood development and the Greenbelt purchase.   On one of the snowier days this past week, I visited the location proposed for the Lockwood development, at the invitation of a neighboring resident.  I imagine that most of us on this side of town regularly drive past this property on Jackson Road (across the road and just west of Webers).  The proposed PUD would change current zoning (single family) to create a senior-living facility at a location overlooking Dolph Park and the First Sister Lake.  There is significant neighborhood opposition to this project.  Residents from across the city have reached out to me to express support for increased housing supply, generally, and support for this project, specifically, because it would provide housing for older residents.   

I appreciate that there are city-wide benefits to adding to our housing supply (and for older residents, especially), but a decision like this one— which requires a change in zoning— must be considered in local context.  Some of the highest levels of dioxane from the Gelman Plume have been detected in this exact location; there are monitoring wells on the property.  It is on a slope, above wetlands around First Sister Lake in Dolph Park.  Rain and snowmelt runoff from this commercial development will almost certainly flow into one of our city’s only natural lakes.  The project will serve over-55 and independent older residents (not assisted living or skilled care), yet the developers provide capacity for less than one-third of their tenants to own cars.  Crucially for the future residents of this facility: the location is not highly accessible in terms of either walkability or public transit.  For these reasons, I do not plan to support the Lockwood development.

The Greenbelt purchase of the Lepkowski property in Northfield township will be reconsidered at this meeting, after Council voted it down, brought it back for re-consideration, and postponed it.  When this purchase was first voted down, some members of Council complained that the city’s share of the cost was too high, higher than the percentage designated in the original greenbelt millage.  A number of stakeholders were caught by surprise by Council’s vote, including municipal leaders in surrounding communities. 

Since our January vote, I’ve had meaningful conversation with advocates and members of the Greenbelt Commission have provided more detailed information supporting the purchase.   Northfield township trustees tell us that they are now discussing how they might raise funds to be better partners for future purchases. I appreciate the voices on council who regularly remind us about fiscal responsibility and I was persuaded by those arguments the first time we considered this purchase.  I am now persuaded that our city enjoys enough local benefit in preserving these green spaces that it is worth shouldering a slightly higher share of the expense.  These greenbelt funds were created by a millage with the intent that they be spent on purchases like this one and I plan to vote in favor of purchasing it.  Approval will require eight votes.  


Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!

Elizabeth Nelson

ENelson@A2gov.org


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Elizabeth NELSON

DEMOCRAT for Ann Arbor City Council Ward 4

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PO Box 2243. Ann Arbor. MI 48106-2243