This week, our agenda includes four public hearings, settlement of the lawsuit at 2857 Packard, approval for a site plan at 1100 S. University, and other new business. However, the beginning of our meeting (including the consent agenda) is likely to be the most interesting. In the "Introductions" section of the agenda, Jennifer Hall from our Ann Arbor Housing Commission will present a report on the feasibility of affordable housing development on eleven city-owned properties. In the consent agenda, Council will approve steps moving forward at various locations around the City.
City discussions on this topic actually began on March 18, 2019, when Council passed individual resolutions asking our City Administrator to develop plans for affordable housing on two city-owned parcels: 721 North Main Street and 2000 South Industrial. When those properties were first suggested, we learned that they had been picked from a much larger list of city-owned parcels identified by the Ann Arbor Housing Commission. Several of us on Council were keenly interested in discussion of the complete list, hearing ideas and priorities directly from the AAHC.
This week’s report is in response to a Resolution Council passed on April 1, 2019 (Resolution 19-0605, enacted as R-19-138), requesting a comprehensive analysis and prioritization of the whole of AAHC’s list of under-utilized city-owned properties. Council Members Eaton, Bannister and I introduced that resolution so that we could have a more informed discussion about all options. Slides from Jennifer Hall’s report are already posted on Legistar as agenda item INT-1 (19-2023) and I encourage everyone to look it over: http://a2gov.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=4218095&GUID=FE93751E-7D9B-4B45-8D74-575095A4AA75
Also on this agenda: I am introducing item DC-2 to improve city policies for filling sidewalk gaps. See my “Additional Thoughts” at the bottom of this newsletter for more explanation.
Before I jump into my summary of items on the agenda, I’d like to invite you to my coffee hours tomorrow (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.
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Some of us on City Council have decided to resume a tradition of “Council Caucus” on Sunday nights. I am looking forward to this opportunity for additional open, public conversation around the issues that matter to you!
Council Caucus Sunday Nov 18 (7:00-9:00pm) City Hall 2nd Floor 301 E Huron St
Public comment general time. (Three minutes, no need to signup in advance and speakers will be assigned in the order of arrival.)
Discussion, primarily topics on the next day's Council agenda.
One or more council members will be present for each caucus.
Children are welcome. (Books and crayons provided)
For more information about Council Caucus, see the city website at: https://www.a2gov.org/departments/city-council/Pages/CityCouncilMeetings.aspx
Boards and Commissions Applications
Membership on Ann Arbor 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
Ready Ann Arbor Community Preparedness Training applications due Dec 6th
The Ann Arbor Police and Fire departments have scheduled the next Ready Ann Arbor Community Preparedness Training for early 2020. Applications are due Dec 6th. https://www.a2elnel.com/post/ready-ann-arbor-community-preparedness-training-applications-due-dec-6th
Apply Now for the 2020 Ann Arbor Citizens Academy (due Dec 14th)
Apply now to be a part of the next Ann Arbor Citizens Academy. Applications are due Dec 14th, and the academy will be be run Jan-Mar 2020. https://www.a2elnel.com/post/apply-now-for-the-2020-ann-arbor-citizens-academy-due-dec-14th
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.
You can see a listing of all my posts here: https://www.a2elnel.com/blog/
City Council Voting Chart for Nov 4, 2019 https://www.a2elnel.com/post/city-council-voting-chart-for-nov-4-2019
Hoover/Greene/Hill Project Update Nov 4th An update on the Hoover/Greene/Hill road construction project. https://www.a2elnel.com/post/hoover-greene-hill-project-update-nov-4th
Water Meter Upgrades Set to Begin this Winter The City will begin the replacement of over 25,000 residential and business water meters in January 2020. https://www.a2elnel.com/post/water-meter-upgrades-set-to-begin-this-winter
950 Greene Street (Hoover + Greene) Project Status Meeting Nov 14th The developers of 950 Greene Street are hosting a public meeting on Nov 14th. https://www.a2elnel.com/post/950-greene-street-hoover-greene-project-status-meeting-nov-14th
Ann Arbor Smart City planning meetings Nov 20/21 The City will host meetings at Cobblestone Farms (Nov 20) and A2 STEAM (Nov 21) to discuss Smart City initiatives. https://www.a2elnel.com/post/ann-arbor-smart-city-planning-meetings-nov-20-21
Granger Ave resurfacing public meeting Nov 21st The first public meeting to discuss the resurfacing of Granger Avenue between South State and Packard Street has been scheduled for Nov 21st. https://www.a2elnel.com/post/granger-ave-resurfacing-public-meeting-nov-21st
Housing + Affordability Public Discussions Dec 5th-9th The City will host five public meetings about affordable housing from Dec 5th - 9th. https://www.a2elnel.com/post/housing-affordability-public-discussions-dec-5th-9th
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
HIGHLIGHTS Council Meeting Agenda 11/18/19
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) can be found on the A2Gov Legistar website: https://a2gov.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=656017&GUID=0BCD658E-8509-4AC7-B0A9-FA24C8B976AE
Ann Arbor City Council Monday Nov 18 (7:00pm) City Hall 2nd Floor 301 E Huron St
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 https://a2ctn.viebit.com/
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-2 (19-2210) November 18, 2019 Agenda Response Memo and eComments 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 (19-2101) Appointments - Confirmations These Mayoral appointments were introduced at the 11/4/19 Council meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting.
Alex Gossage - Commission on Disability Issues
Chris Fraleigh - Zoning Board of Appeals
MC-2 (19-2155) Appointments and Nominations These Mayoral appointments are being introduced at this Council meeting, and will be voted on at the next Council meeting.
John Fournier - Economic Development Corporation Board
Brock Hastie - Employees’ Retirement System Board of Trustees
Brock Hastie - Retiree Health Care & Benefit Plan and Trust Board of Trustees (VEBA)
MC-3 (19-2177) Resolution to Appointing Richard Chang to the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority Board (7 votes required) This Mayoral appointment is being introduced at this Council meeting, and will be voted on at the next Council meeting. 7 votes are required because the nominee is not a resident of Ann Arbor.
Richard Chang - Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority Board
MC-4 (19-2178) Resolution to Reappoint Julie Lynch to the Employee Retirement System Board of Trustees and VEBA (7 Votes Required) This Mayoral appointment is being introduced at this Council meeting, and will be voted on at the next Council meeting. 7 votes are required because the nominee is not a resident of Ann Arbor.
Julie Lynch - Employee Retirement System Board of Trustees & VEBA
MC-5 (19-2206) Resolution to Appoint Ayesha Edwin to the Human Right Commission (7 Votes Required) This Mayoral appointment is being introduced at this Council meeting, and will be voted on at the next Council meeting. 7 votes are required because the nominee is not a resident of Ann Arbor.
Ayesha Edwin - Human Rights Commission
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.
CA-1 (19-2088) Resolution Approving the Lease and Related Renewals Between the City of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan For City-Owned Property Behind 926 Mary Street ($4,120.00 annually) (8 Votes Required)
CA-2 (19-2014) Resolution to Accept and Allocate Michigan Supreme Court State Court Administrative Office Michigan Veterans Treatment Court Grant Award and Approve Grant Contract ($35,000.00) (8 Votes Required)
CA-3 (19-2016) Resolution to Accept and Appropriate Michigan Supreme Court State Court Administrative Office Drug Court Grant Funds and Approve Grant Contract ($130,000.00) (8 Votes Required)
CA-4 (19-2018) Resolution to Accept and Appropriate Michigan Supreme Court State Court Administrative Office Mental Health Court Grant Award and Approve Grant Contract ($172,900.00) (8 Votes Required)
CA-5 (19-2087) Resolution to Accept a Sidewalk Easement at 1180 East Ellsworth Road from Maxey, LLC (8 Votes Required)
CA-6 (19-2145) Resolution to Authorize Settlement Agreement Regarding Potential Litigation Regarding Glacier Hills, Inc., Earhart Village Homes Association, and the City of Ann Arbor
CA-7 (19-1980) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 1 of the General Services Agreement for Digital Scanning Services with Layton Document Systems, Inc. and Appropriate Additional Funds ($91,910.00) (8 Votes Required)
CA-8 (19-2086) Resolution to Extend the Deer Management Program within the City of Ann Arbor
CA-9 (19-2041) Resolution Approving a Contract with the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County for the 2019 - 2020 Winter Emergency Shelter and Warming Center ($72,000.00)
CA-10 (19-2125) Resolution to Direct the Ann Arbor Housing Commission to Develop 121 E. Catherine and 404 N. Ashley as Affordable Housing
CA-11 (19-2126) Resolution to Direct the Ann Arbor Housing Commission to Pursue Affordable Housing Development of 2000 S. Industrial
CA-12 (19-2127) Resolution to Direct City Staff to Conduct Community Engagement Around Development Options for Ashley/William and First/William Surface Parking Lots to Support Affordable Housing in the City
CA-13 (19-2128) Resolution to Direct the City Staff to Conduct Community Engagement Around Development Options for 721 N Main in Support of Affordable Housing in the City
CA-14 (19-2129) Resolution to Direct the Ann Arbor Housing Commission to Continue Community Engagement Around Development Options for the AAHC-Owned Properties at 3432 - 3440 Platt Road and 3435 - 3443 Springbrook to Support Affordable Housing in the City
CA-15 (19-2130) Resolution to Direct the Ann Arbor Housing Commission to Determine Feasibility of using 1510 E. Stadium for Temporary or Permanent AAHC or Other City Office Space
CA-16 (19-2092) Resolution Directing the City Administrator to Collaborate with the Ann Arbor Housing Commission to Provide Coordinated Analysis on the Feasibility of the City-Owned Property at 353 S. Main as a Potential Location for Affordable Housing
CA-17 (19-1988) Resolution No. 1 - Prepare Plans and Specifications for the Stimson Street Sidewalk Gap Special Assessment (District #59), and Appropriate $15,000.00 from the General Fund Balance for the Design of the Project (8 Votes Required)
CA-18 (19-1989) Resolution No. 1 - Prepare Plans and Specifications for the Proposed Scio Church Resurfacing Project’s Sidewalk Gap Portion- Special Assessment (District #58), and Appropriate $20,000.00 from the General Fund Balance for the Design of the Project’s New Sidewalk (8 Votes Required)
CA-19 (19-2079) Resolution to Prohibit On-Street Parking on Both Sides of Barton Drive from Longshore Drive to Pontiac Trail
CA-20 (19-2083) Resolution to Approve Annual Software Support, Maintenance and License Fees Agreement for AclaraONE with Aclara Technologies LLC ($35,400.00)
CA-21 (19-2061) Resolution Authorizing the Appropriation of $160,771.00 from the General Fund to Reimburse the Street, Bridge, Sidewalk Millage Fund for the Northside STEAM Safe Routes Sidewalk Gap Project (8 Votes Required)
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-1 (19-1951) Resolution to Approve The Vic Village South Site Plan and Development Agreement, 1100 South University Avenue (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 9 Yeas and 0 Nays) A site plan for the property at 1100 South University Avenue proposes a 13-story, 205,055 square foot building with 131 apartment units and 17,377 square feet of retail space. There will be 42 one bedroom units, 33 two bedroom units, 32 three bedroom units, and 24 four bedroom units. This plan is required to provide 110 off-street parking spaces: 70 of these spaces will be on-site, the other 40 will be limited overnight spaces provided by the DDA (off-site at the Forest Avenue structure). Various changes were made to the original site plan, based on concerns raised by the City Planning Commission, e.g. arches and decorative metal cross-bars were added to an entrance.
PH-2/B-1 (19-1687) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Zoning), Zoning of 0.106 Acre from TWP (Township District) to R1C (Single-Family Dwelling District), 2625 Valley Drive (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 9 Yeas and 0 Nays) A recently annexed township island (2625 Valley Drive) will now be zoned R1C (Single-Family Dwelling District) to allow access to City utilities for the construction of a new single family home. This zoning is consistent with adjacent zoning, surrounding land uses, and the City’s Master Plan.
PH-3/B-2 (19-1688) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Zoning), Zoning of 0.6 Acre from TWP (Township District) to R1B (Single-Family Dwelling District), 595 Riverview Drive (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 9 Yeas and 0 Nays) A recently annexed township island (595 Riverview Drive) will now be zoned R1B (Single-Family Dwelling District) to allow access to City utilities. This zoning is consistent with adjacent zoning, surrounding land uses, and the City’s Master Plan.
PH-4/B-3 (19-1811) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Zoning), Zoning of 0.48 Acre from TWP (Township District) to R1B (Single-Family Dwelling District) Payne Rezoning, 245 Orchard Hills Drive (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 9 Yeas and 0 Nays) (Ordinance No. ORD-19-38) A recently annexed township island (245 Orchard Hills Drive) will now be zoned R1B (Single-Family Dwelling District) to allow access to City utilities. This zoning is consistent with adjacent zoning, surrounding land uses, and the City’s Master 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 (19-1687) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Zoning), Zoning of 0.106 Acre from TWP (Township District) to R1C (Single-Family Dwelling District), 2625 Valley Drive (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 9 Yeas and 0 Nays) This is the same as PH-2 above.
B-2 (19-1688) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Zoning), Zoning of 0.6 Acre from TWP (Township District) to R1B (Single-Family Dwelling District), 595 Riverview Drive (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 9 Yeas and 0 Nays) This is the same as PH-3 above.
B-3 (19-1811) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Zoning), Zoning of 0.48 Acre from TWP (Township District) to R1B (Single-Family Dwelling District) Payne Rezoning, 245 Orchard Hills Drive (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 9 Yeas and 0 Nays) (Ordinance No. ORD-19-38) This is the same as PH-4 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 approval. If approved, the ordinance will be voted on at a subsequent Council meeting, where it will also be subject to a public hearing.
C-1 (19-2038) An Ordinance to Amend Section 7.34 of Chapter 77 (Fees and Bonds Required) of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor City fees for “Going Out of Business Sale” permits are now set at $115, but would be reduced to $50. Our current permit fee is in violation of state statute, which sets the maximum permit fee at $50. This amendment will bring local ordinance into compliance with state law.
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 (19-2106) Resolution to Develop a Plan to Expand Access to Voting and Registration Beyond the Minimum Required by the Michigan Constitution for Even-Year November General Elections The city administrator is directed to plan for expansion of voting hours and locations in even-year November elections and include the additional cost to our budget for the City Clerk’s office. Expansion will include 24 hours beyond ordinary business hours and the eight-hour weekend requirement for citizen registration and voting. The plan will also offer registration and balloting at a satellite location (in addition to the City Clerk’s Office at City Hall) to improve access. The extra hours and access will be publicized.
DC-2 (19-2176) Resolution Creating a Resident-Driven Sidewalk Gap-Filling Program and Appropriate $150,000.00 from the General Fund, Fund Balance (8 Votes Required) See my "Additional Thoughts" section below.
DC-3 (19-2220) Resolution to Authorize Settlement of Peters Building Co. and Robert Weber v. City of Ann Arbor, Case No. 18-822-NZ Our city attorneys would settle the lawsuit with Peters Building Co. Settlement under a consent judgement would permit the development of 7.7 acres at 2857 Packard, consistent with the PUD site plan last revised on August 20, 2019. That PUD site plan will allow fifty-one total units, with 26 of these units located in four, two-story townhouse style units on one parcel. The proposed density would be seven dwelling units per acre, each proposed house a maximum size of 2,000 square feet, with prohibition to finishing the basements. (A grading permit is required before removal of an existing house on the property, to allow more time to explore moving the house.) A previous site plan for this property was rejected due to its negative impact on natural features. As compared to the previous site plan, this PUD will preserve 42 landmark/woodland trees and maintain 4.4. acres of open space.
DC-4 (19-2216) Resolution Directing the City Administrator to Collaborate with the Ann Arbor Housing Commission to Provide Coordinated Analysis on the Feasibility of the Property at 2857 Packard as a Potential Location for Affordable Housing The property at 2857 Packard would be added to the list of sites currently being considered by the Ann Arbor Housing commission for development of affordable housing. Though this property is privately owned, this resolution directs the City Administrator to provide coordinated analysis of its feasibility in collaboration with other parties.
DB-1 (19-1951) Resolution to Approve The Vic Village South Site Plan and Development Agreement, 1100 South University Avenue (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 9 Yeas and 0 Nays) This is the same as PH-1 above.
I posted this on my website earlier today: https://www.a2elnel.com/post/filling-the-sidewalk-gaps-that-neighborhoods-want
Filling the Sidewalk Gaps that Neighborhoods Want
This week, I am introducing a resolution for a resident-request driven sidewalk gap filling program. It is a relatively small budget amendment that I am proposing as a pilot program. Residents could petition the city about a sidewalk gap their neighborhood needs filled, the City would measure local neighborhood interest, and if enough local residents expressed support then the assessment to the property owner(s) would be subsidized by 50%. My resolution is on the agenda as DC-2 (19-2176) https://a2gov.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=4223508&GUID=CA12E4F0-375B-4010-97AD-68EC1C4C2C53
My goals for this program are two-fold: 1) formalize the process for taking resident requests for filling sidewalk gaps and 2) reduce potential resistance from assessed property owners in cases where local neighborhoods have expressed a community need.
In the last year, Council considered proposals to fill two sidewalk gaps in Ward 1, both of which prompted written protest from the residents subject to assessment for cost. When property owners challenge assessments like these, Council approval then requires a super-majority: eight votes. Both of the contested sidewalk gap assessments failed. One of these proposed sidewalks failed due to written protest from a single resident, even though seven Council members voted in favor of it.
Under our current system, a new sidewalk is deemed to be a property improvement, an investment that adds to the value of a private property. I.e. By assessment, the property owner assumes the cost of the new sidewalk and, presumably, enjoys the benefit. Conversely, some argue that connectivity via sidewalks is clearly a “community benefit,” that individual property owners should not be asked to pay for any of them. City staff tell me that the cost of filling every sidewalk gap — approximately 150 miles of sidewalk — is so high that if the City assumed the whole of that expense, we would have to pass an additional millage to pay for it.
Legally, the city can recognize a “community benefit” to sidewalks and subsidize some (or all) of the cost of construction, but we have no process for calculating that “community benefit” except on a case-by-case basis, at the discretion of Council. I do not believe that funding discretion like that, at the Council table, would be a good process; it would be too vulnerable to political influence or whim.
There are so many sidewalk gaps in Ann Arbor that staff prioritizes them primarily by characteristics that can be sorted automatically (e,g. location and proximity that can be mapped and ranked by a set of metrics). I’m told that the city also receives about a dozen requests a year from residents re: specific sidewalk gaps. Resident requests are supposed to help the city prioritize the filling of sidewalk gaps, but many sidewalk gap projects are scheduled simply because the city happens to be doing other work in the area.
Given the many miles of sidewalk gaps that exist in Ann Arbor and the very small number that we actually address year to year, there is room to debate the question: where are sidewalks most helpful, most needed? In theory, sidewalks connect our neighborhoods for use by all pedestrians but in practice, some sidewalks are more likely to be used than others. E,g. The city already acknowledges at least one residential neighborhood in Ward 2 where residents walk on low-traffic streets and have no interest in sidewalks.
During heated debate about relative need for new sidewalks in Ward 1, residents of Ward 4 told me about a desperately needed sidewalk on Stimson. Ward 4 residents asked me: why has it taken so long for the city to prioritize our sidewalk on Stimson, where “goat paths” show regular pedestrian traffic?
In the last two months, I have been talking to city staff about how to meet the needs of neighborhoods who want and need sidewalks. Before I mentioned it, staff had already been working to improve their methods of prioritization — everyone at City Hall would rather invest time and effort on projects that are popular and satisfy residents.
My resolution is written to find sidewalk gap filling projects that have significant local support. Sidewalk gaps can be difficult to fill when individual property owners balk at assessment costs and anticipated maintenance costs. Council has a role to play in promoting the most-needed sidewalk gap projects because we can offer subsidies that make them less burdensome to property owners.
I am pleased to see Stimson included among the items on our 11/18/19 agenda, but Stimson is only one case; we have needs city-wide. I am hopeful about my resolution prompting discussion about how we can work together to address those city-wide needs. My proposal is one idea, and I welcome suggestions/amendments about how to make it better. I believe that residents can help us identify the most needed sidewalks, our city staff can create an objective process to measure “community benefit,” and Council can direct city resources toward those projects that are most needed and have the most local support.
Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!
Elizabeth Nelson ENelson@A2gov.org
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