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Elizabeth Nelson's City Council Blog

I write a City Council newsletter with my summary of agenda items coming before City Council. Sign up to receive it first via email, or read it here later on this blog.

City Council Newsletter (September 17, 2022)

Hello neighbors!

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.


There are a few big items on this week’s agenda: prohibition of right turns on red downtown, changes to masking policy at Council meetings, and the Right to Renew Ordinance.


COFFEE HOURS

Tomorrow afternoon, instead of my usual coffee hours at RoosRoast, I am inviting you to visit my backyard. From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., I am hosting an event in support of Susan Baskett, who is running for re-election to the Ann Arbor School Board. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell is scheduled to be with us and I will be serving refreshments. If you would like to join me during or after this event, just let me know! I anticipate fine weather and we can relax in my backyard!


SCIO CHURCH ROAD

Planned road improvements to Scio Church (west of Seventh) have been delayed yet again. I share the disappointment of residents in the vicinity of Dicken/Lawton who are especially impacted by the poor condition of this road and have waited such a long time for this work to be done. This is not the first delay to the project: in spring of 2021, I helped share news of its upcoming improvement, which had been announced and was previously planned for summer 2021. At our 8/15/22 meeting, City Council approved a cost-sharing agreement with MDOT for the resurfacing of Scio Church Road.


You can find official explanation from the city here:

https://www.a2gov.org/departments/engineering/Pages/Scio-Church-Road-Resurfacing-and-Water-Main-Relocation-Project-.aspx


I have also posted this information on my website:

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/scio-church-road-construction-delayed-to-2023


MLive wrote a story about it here:

https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2022/09/ann-arbor-road-project-delayed-after-bids-come-in-193-higher-than-expected.html


SOUTH SEVENTH/GREENVIEW

For anyone who missed the meeting about planned improvements to South Seventh/Greenview, I encourage you to watch the meeting here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XEsQmTBhj0


A survey is open until September 20th, for you to share any questions or feedback to this plan. You can find that survey here:

https://www.opentownhall.com/portals/116/Issue_12113


I have also posted this information on my website:

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/update-from-south-seventh-street-and-greenview-drive-project-public-meeting

 

Coffee Hours

Sunday September 18th 1:00pm

I hold coffee hours Sunday afternoons before City Council meetings. This week my coffee hours are in my backyard. Contact me for details.

City Council Regular Meeting

Monday Sept 19th 7:00pm

Council Meetings are in person at City Council chambers. Public commentary is available either in person or via phone/Zoom - see the Legistar link for details.

https://a2gov.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=914280&GUID=E3F1A9E6-2268-425E-96A6-808834333F90

 

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 September 6, 2022

The voting chart I made for our most recent Council meeting.

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/city-council-voting-chart-for-september-6-2022


A2Council.com Update for September 6, 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.

https://www.a2elnel.com/a2council-date/20220906


Update from South Seventh Street and Greenview Drive Project Public Meeting

My summary of the public meeting held about the South Seventh Street and Greenview Drive Resurfacing and Water Main Relocation Project that is scheduled for construction in April-November 2023.

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/update-from-south-seventh-street-and-greenview-drive-project-public-meeting


Public Meeting for Southtown by 4M Development (Sept 21, 2022)

This week postcards were mailed to local residents about a proposed development for the block surrounded by S. State, Henry, White, and Stimson Streets, announcing a public meeting scheduled for September 21, 2022.

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/public-meeting-for-southtown-by-4m-development-sept-21-2022


State and Hill Improvement Meeting (Sept 27, 2022)

The City of Ann Arbor will be holding a virtual information session to provide updates on the State and Hill Improvement Project

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/state-and-hill-improvement-meeting-sept-27-2022


Scio Church Road Construction Delayed to 2023

City staff announced this week that the Scio Church (Seventh to Maple) road construction project will be delayed until 2023.

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/scio-church-road-construction-delayed-to-2023

 

Council Meeting Agenda 9/19/22

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:

https://a2gov.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=914280&GUID=E3F1A9E6-2268-425E-96A6-808834333F90


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 (22-1566) Agenda Response Memo and eComments - September 19, 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 (22-1428) Appointments - Confirmations

These mayoral nominations were presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting.

  • Wendy Rampson - Design Review Board

  • Gabriel Harp - Energy Commission

MC-2 (22-1523) Nominations and Appointments for September 19, 2022

These mayoral nominations are being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting.

  • Angela Frances Peat - Downtown Area Citizens Advisory Council

  • Mike Berkowitz - Energy Commission

 

Consent Agenda

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 (22-1317) Resolution to Approve the Purchase of Ice Control Salt through the Michigan Delivering Extended Agreements Locally (MiDEAL) from the Detroit Salt Company for Early Fill ($86,675.00) and for Seasonal Backup Supply ($215,600.00)


CA-2 (22-1375) Resolution to Approve a Two (2) Year Purchasing Agreement with Cadillac Asphalt, LLC for Bituminous Patching Materials, ITB-4724 ($136,500.00 Annually)


CA-3 (22-1425) Resolution to Approve a Two (2) year Purchasing Agreement for Aggregate Materials and Hauling Services for Excavation and Street Sweeping Waste from Farmer & Underwood Trucking, Ltd., ITB-4723 ($280,780.95 annually)


CA-4 (22-1434) Resolution to Approve a Construction Contract with Cascade Drilling, Limited Partnership for Sentinel Monitoring Well Installation (RFP 22-36) ($332,695.00)


CA-5 (22-1429) Resolution to Approve a Construction Contract with Monroe Plumbing and Heating Company for the Sodium Hypochlorite Storage Tank Replacement (RFP 22-43)($640,980.00)


CA-6 (22-1453) Resolution to Remove Parking on Division Street between Hoover Street and Packard Street


CA-7 (22-1452) Resolution to Approve Amendment No. 1 to the Professional Services Agreement with Hubbell, Roth and Clark, Inc. (HRC) for As-Needed Transportation Engineering Services


CA-8 (22-1465) Resolution to Approve a Professional Services Agreement with Sam Schwartz Consulting, LLC (RFP 22-57; $134,271.00) and Appropriate Funds for the State Trunkline Jurisdiction Transfer Study ($160,000.00) (8 Votes Required)


CA-9 (22-1477) Resolution to Approve a Construction Contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation for the Huron Parkway and Glazier Way Capital Preventative Maintenance Project ($938,000.00)


CA-10 (22-1437) Resolution to Approve the Second Amendment to the Master Service and Purchasing Agreement with Axon Enterprise, Inc. for the Purchase of a Virtual Reality Training System, Five-Year Quote ($114,225)


CA-11 (22-1503) Resolution to Accept and Appropriate Funds from the Michigan Office of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) for the Purchase and Installation of 3 Utility Pole Mounted FLO SmartTWO EV Chargers ($54,000) (8 Votes Required)


CA-12 (22-1448) Resolution to Approve the Purchase of Vehicles from National Auto Fleet Group (Sourcewell Bid - $111,308.00)


CA-13 (22-1449) Resolution to Approve the Purchase of Vehicles from Signature Ford (State of Michigan MiDeal and Macomb County Cooperative Purchasing - $627,019.00)


CA-14 (22-1512) Resolution to Accept a Water Main Easement at 545 S. Main Street from 545 South Main LLC (8 Votes Required)


CA-15 (22-1436) Resolution to Approve University Inn Development Agreement, 2424 E. Stadium (CPC approved the site plan: Approval - 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)

 

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/B-1 (22-1148) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Zoning), Rezoning of 0.15 Acres from C1B (Community Convenience Center District) to PUD (Planned Unit Development District), 340 Depot Zoning and Supplemental Regulations, 340 Depot (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 8 Yeas and 0 Nays) (ORD-22-14)

A parcel of 0.15 acres at 340 Depot Street that is currently zoned C1B (Community Convenience Center District) would be rezoned as a PUD (Planned Unit Development). The PUD will allow a 7,830 square foot residential building with 6 vehicle parking spaces at ground level underneath part of the proposed building. The current site plan for the two-story building has four residential units and 2,530 square feet of office/retail use.


PH-2/DB-1 (22-1154) Resolution to Approve 340 Depot PUD Site Plan, 340 Depot Street (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 8 Yeas and 0 Nays)

The site plan for redevelopment of 340 Depot Street (see B-1) will allow the building of 4 residential units and 2,530 square feet of office/retail use in a single building: 7,830 square foot with 6 vehicle parking spaces. The plan is primarily two stories and requires a minimum of 1,300 square feet of office or retail use on the first floor. This plan would be approved with the condition that 4 feet of “Easement for Public Right-of-Way” is vacated by City Council.

 

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 (22-1148) is the same as PH-1 above

DB-1 (22-1154) is the same as PH-2 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 (22-1468) An Ordinance to Add Section 8:531 to Chapter 105 (Housing Code) of Title VIII of the Ann Arbor City Code - (Right to Renew and Relocation Assistance)

An ordinance would grant tenants a Right to Renew a lease, subject to specific exceptions (“just cause” for eviction). Landlords would adhere to a timeline for communicating terms of renewal (or explanation of non-renewal) consistent with the Early Leasing Ordinance: tenants will receive a good faith offer to renew (or notice of non-renewal with explanation) no later than 180 days before the end of the current lease period. A tenant will have thirty days (up to 150 days before the end of the current lease) to accept/reject terms of renewal. A landlord’s failure to comply will result in payment of relocation assistance to the tenant equal to two months rent, based on the current lease.

 

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 (22-1443) Resolution to Appoint Claire McKenna to the Energy Commission (7 Votes Required)

This mayoral nomination was presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting. Seven votes are required because the "appointee is not a registered elector of the City of Ann Arbor."

  • Claire McKenna - Energy Commission

DC-2 (18-1821) Resolution to Accept an Access Easement, Appropriate $47,710.00 from the General Fund, and Approve Reimbursement of Road Maintenance Costs to the Dhu Varren on the Park Association (8 Votes Required)

The City will pay for an access easement across a private road for public access to Leslie Park. The Dhu Varren on the Park Association will be reimbursed $47,710. This payment is part of a development agreement from 1992 which describes cost-sharing of maintenance costs for the private road, based on traffic counts estimating park use.


DC-3 (22-1554) Resolution to Accept and Appropriate Michigan Strategic Funds and Approve Certified Local Government Grant Agreement for the City of Ann Arbor Old Fourth Ward Historic District Reconnaissance-Level Survey Update ($45,000.00) (8 Votes Required)

The City will accept and appropriate a $45,000 grant from the State Historic Preservation Office to survey and update historic resources in the Old Fourth Ward Historic District. A version of this was approved at the 9/6/22 meeting, with explanation that the funds be received into the “General Planning Fund (0050) for the expenditure for purpose stated in the grant until such time as all grant funds have been expended without regard to fiscal year.” This has been revised to explain that the $45,000 will be appropriated “to the Planning Department budget within the Major Grants Programs Fund for the purpose of a City of Ann Arbor Old Fourth Ward Historic District Reconnaissance-Level Survey Update with the source of funding being grant funds received from the State Historic Preservation Office.”


DC-4 (22-1579) Resolution to Restrict Turns on Red Downtown

The City Administrator is directed to prohibit right turns on red in the downtown and near-downtown area as bordered by Kingsley St., State St., Hoover Ave., and First St.


DC-5 (22-1586) Resolution to Require Masks at City Council Meetings Consistent with CDC Guidance

Current City Hall mask requirements would be rescinded. The City Administrator is directed to place signage at City Hall regarding mask requirements, consistent with revised guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Based on current CDC guidelines, in-person attendees at City Council meetings will only be required to wear a mask when community transmission rates are HIGH. The City administrator would be directed to follow any future changes to CDC guidelines regarding mask recommendations.


The CDC acknowledges the discretion of local and state authorities to require masks and recommends masks/respirators when community transmission levels are medium and high. See CDC guidelines (updated 8/11/22) here:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/covid-by-county.html


The Washtenaw County Health Department weekly update (916/22) describes our current community level as HIGH:

https://www.washtenaw.org/3108/Cases

 

Additional thoughts…


This week, I attended an event at UM that featured former Polish president and activist Lech Walesa. It was inspiring and his message was fundamentally important. Broadly, he advised students and other guests: people must have the courage to stand up and challenge bad systems. Reflecting on his work as an organizer, he described the pessimism he faced from many people who were intimidated by existing power structures, people who were certain that nothing could be done to up-end them. You can read the Michigan Daily’s report on Lech Walesa’s visit here:

https://www.michigandaily.com/news/former-polish-president-lech-walesa-talks-global-leadership-time-as-solidarity-movement-leader


I particularly appreciated Lech Walesa’s message because these last four years, much of my work has been prompted by problems in our local systems. I’ve had many conversations rooted in pessimism and hopelessness: people insisting that local systems cannot effectively be challenged. In the last month, I have had many more conversations along these lines. Profit interests and established networks of power and influence are keen to preserve the status quo.


CHALLENGING BAD SYSTEMS

This week’s agenda item C-1 is the culmination of many months of advocacy from community members pushing for tenants rights. If Council approves C-1, we will establish local policy that - together with our Early Leasing Ordinance - protects tenants from arbitrary eviction as well as protect tenants from premature and unfair pressure to renew leases. The ordinance in C-1 represents many months of work from hundreds of activists educating Council about the needs of tenants in Ann Arbor.


In 2021, I was told that any big changes to our leasing ordinance were impossible. I was advised that smaller changes could only happen with permission and agreement from the powerful coalition of landlords who control the current system. Again and again this past year, colleagues have suggested that we didn’t dare take action to solve an obvious problem without first earning the approval of profit interests.


I’ve written a lot in the past four years about the need for intervention in our private rental markets (both short term and long-term). These last four years, I’ve seen just how much power and influence property owners have in our City, how much money can be leveraged in support of their interests, and how many elected leaders are willing to align for their benefit.


In a democracy, our community has the power to reject or tolerate bad systems. Residents can elect leaders who support the will of a majority, the needs of the disadvantaged, and the values of justice. Everyone who votes in support of an elected government has an obligation to pay attention to the work of your elected leaders, notice whose interests they serve, and consider how those priorities align with your own priorities and values.


I am cautiously optimistic that C-1 is approved at first reading this week.



Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!

Elizabeth Nelson


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