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Elizabeth Nelson's City Council Blog

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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.

Council Newsletter (Jan 30, 2021)

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.


This week’s agenda includes a lot of unfinished business from previous meetings - membership in a regional waste management authority (WRRMA), appointments to the Council of the Commons - as well as public hearings and site plans for developments (2195 East Ellsworth, 2111 Packard). Our Consent Agenda includes several purchases of Greenbelt and Parks, which I wrote about in my "Additional Thoughts" section at the bottom of this newsletter.


Like many of you, I am waiting my turn to get the COVID-19 vaccine. I know a number of people who have already received it, e.g. my elderly mother-in-law in Illinois, my niece in West Virginia, local friends who work in healthcare. Because I work in a preschool (which has met in-person since September), I am now technically eligible to receive the vaccine in "Phase 1b" — like many others, I am still waiting for access.


I recently participated in a meeting where the Mayor of Ypsilanti asked about when grocery store and gas station workers would be prioritized to receive the COVID vaccine. That question certainly put my own level of risk/exposure into perspective. At my small in-person preschool (with adapted policies/procedures) we teach 21 students, but I am in relatively close contact with only seven children and three other adults. I have a lot of reasons to feel grateful about my own circumstances, even as I wait to get the vaccine.


I will continue to post updates and information about the COVID vaccine as I become aware of them.


In other news: since our last meeting, I was featured on an episode of Ward Talk on CTN with Bonnie Gabowitz! She is a great interviewer and I always enjoy a conversation with her. You can find the interview here:

https://youtu.be/Ocowdkdg158


Barrier Busters

Residents in need of financial help during this crisis (e.g. to avoid eviction, pay utility bills, cover emergency medical expenses) can find resources at this link:

https://www.washtenaw.org/2818/Barrier-Buster-Agency-Provider-List



If you would like to receive this newsletter via email before it is published on my website, please click here to signup: https://eepurl.com/dGDKXf


Virtual Coffee Hours

Sunday Jan 31st 3:00pm

During the COVID-19 crisis I have been holding "virtual" coffee hours with Zoom on Sunday afternoons before scheduled City Council meetings. Please email me for a link:

contact@a2elnel.com


Council Caucus

Sunday Jan 31st 6:00pm

We have been holding Council Caucus on Sunday nights before Council meetings since March 2019. All Council Members are invited to participate. During the COVID-19 crisis, we are holding Caucus via Zoom. Please check the Legistar link below for the latest information

https://a2gov.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=827985&GUID=5627453A-D2B1-47A3-85A1-D57CB4FE55F3


City Council

Monday Feb 1st 7:00pm

Council is meeting again using the Zoom application. The video feed will be broadcast on CTN and YouTube. Public comment is audio only using dial-in numbers. Please check the Legistar link below for the latest information.

https://a2gov.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=829539&GUID=A46672B6-67B8-40DB-B73E-A59A7EB5A0C9

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.

You can see a listing of all my posts here: https://www.a2elnel.com/blog/

City Council Voting Chart for Jan 19, 2021

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/city-council-voting-chart-for-jan-19-2021


No-Cost COVID-19 Testing Jan 31st at Pioneer High School

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/no-cost-covid-19-testing-jan-31st-at-pioneer-high-school


Ann Arbor Community Academy (A2CA) signup by Feb 19th

Ann Arbor Community Academy (previously Ann Arbor Citizens Academy) will run this year from March 10th through April 28th. People interested in participating are asked to fill out an interest form by Feb 19th.

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/ann-arbor-community-academy-a2ca-signup-by-feb-19th


Ann Arbor City Hall building closure extended to Feb 21st

To comply with new State orders, City Hall will be closed through Feb 21, 2021.

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/ann-arbor-city-hall-building-closure-extended-to-feb-21st-2021

A2COUNCIL Updates (A2COUNCIL.com)

For anyone interested in understanding and analyzing the recent work of Council, I have created a resource at A2COUNCIL.com with summaries of issues and direct links to City documents. For each City Council meeting since November 2018, you can find links to the City's Legistar website, CTN's YouTube video, and links to my newsletters and voting charts. I have listed agenda items of interest from each meeting, along with articles I've written and articles published on MLive.

https://www.a2elnel.com/a2council

http://a2council.com

Council Meeting Agenda 2/1/21

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=829539&GUID=A46672B6-67B8-40DB-B73E-A59A7EB5A0C9

Ann Arbor City Council Monday Feb 1 (7:00pm) Electronic Meeting


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 (21-0204) Agenda Response Memo and eComments - February 1, 2021

This agenda item has a PDF attachment with all questions raised by Council Members, and the answers provided by staff.

Communications from the Mayor


There are no board or commision nominations from the Mayor on the agenda.

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 (21-0010) Resolution to Approve the City’s Contract with Delta Dental Plan of Michigan, Inc., for Claims Administration Services for the City’s Dental Plan through December 31, 2021 ($800,000 per year)


CA-2 (21-0021) Resolution to Authorize Payments to Unum Life Insurance Company of America and to Renew Associated Group Term Life, Accident, and Disability Insurance Policies for City Employees and their Eligible Dependents, and to Authorize the City Administrator to Execute the Necessary Documentation ($629,657 annually).


CA-3 (21-0033) Resolution to Approve the Renewal of the City’s Contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to Provide Administrative Claims Processing Services and Related Stop-Loss Insurance Coverage Through BCS Insurance Company for the City’s Health Care Plan on Behalf of Employees and Retirees and Their Dependents, and to Authorize the City Administrator to Execute the Necessary Documentation ($2,051,303)


CA-4 (21-0037) Resolution to Approve Interagency Agreement for Collaborative Technology and Services - Schedule 36 with Downtown Development Authority (Revenue of $82,650.00 through 2025)


CA-5 (21-0039) Resolution to Approve Participation in the Purchase of a Conservation Easement on the Frederick G. Andres Trust East Property in Scio Township, Approve a Participation Agreement with Scio Township, and Appropriate $268,400.00 (8 Votes Required)


CA-6 (21-0040) Resolution to Approve Participation in the Purchase of a Conservation Easement on the Frederick G. Andres Trust West Property in Scio Township, Approve a Participation Agreement with Scio Township, and Appropriate $230,809.00 (8 Votes Required)


CA-7 (21-0041) Resolution to Approve the Purchase of a Conservation Easement on the Hamilton Family Living Trust Property in Salem Township, Approve a Participation Agreement with Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission, and Appropriate $2,871,667.00 (8 Votes Required)


CA-8 (21-0042) Resolution to Approve the Purchase of a Conservation Easement on the Kennedy Property in Northfield Township, Approve a Participation Agreement with Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission, and Appropriate $756,367.00 (8 Votes Required)


CA-9 (21-0043) Resolution to Accept a Donation of Park Land and Access Easement at 2601 Pontiac Trail (The Cottages at Barton Green) (8 Votes Required)


CA-10 (21-0044) Resolution to Approve Purchase of Park Land at Cardinal Avenue and Appropriate $1,507,500.00 (8 Votes Required)


CA-11 (21-0045) Resolution to Approve Purchase of Park Land at 2570 Dexter Road and Appropriate $211,500.00 (8 Votes Required)


CA-12 (21-0099) Resolution to Approve Revised Bylaws of the Environmental Commission


CA-13 (21-0151) Resolution Authorizing Summary Publication of Ordinance 20-34 - An Ordinance to Amend Sections 5.16.6.D, 5.17.4, 5.17.6.C, 5.26.2.A, and 5.28.8, and Tables 5.15-1, 5.15-2, and 5.15-3 of Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code) of Title V of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (Marijuana Processor, ADU, Security, Building Materials, FAR Determination, Fence Graphic, Use Tables)


CA-14 (21-0152) Resolution Authorizing Summary Publication of Ordinance No. 20-35 - An Ordinance to Amend Sections 5.19.1, 5.19.2, and 5.37.2 of Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code) of Title V of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (Parking Standard Applicability, Required Parking, Specific Terms)


CA-15 (20-1996) Resolution to Approve a Construction Contract Change Order No. 3 with Lang Constructors, Inc. for Galvanized Water Service Line Replacements - ITB No. 4593 ($1,194,560.00 increase, total contract $1,527,085.00)


CA-16 (21-0160) Resolution to Approve Sixth Amendment to Professional Services Agreement with Bodman, PLC, for Legal Services Relative to 1,4-Dioxane from Gelman Sciences, Inc., dba Pall Life Sciences ($157,500.00)

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 (20-1777) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Zoning), Rezoning of 7.23 Acres from R1C (Single-Family Residential District) to PUD (Planned Unit Development District), Lockwood of Ann Arbor PUD Zoning and Supplemental Regulations, 2195 East Ellsworth (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 7 Yeas and 0 Nays) (8 Votes Required)

A 7.92-acre vacant site at 2195 East Ellsworth would be re-zoned from R1C (Single-Family Residential District) to PUD (Planned Unit Development) to construct a three-story, 168,130 square foot residential building and a 154-space surface parking lot (“Lockwood”). The PUD will include 154 independent senior residential apartments - 89 one-bedroom units and 65 two-bedroom units - in a single building. The building will also contain a commercial kitchen and dining area, small barber shop, activity room, movie room, fitness room and small clinic.


PH-2/DB-1 (21-0058) Resolution to Approve Lockwood of Ann Arbor PUD Site Plan and Development Agreement, 2195 East Ellsworth (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 7 Yeas and 0 Nays)

This is the site plan for 2195 East Ellsworth. See PH-1/B-1.


PH-3/B-2 (20-1779) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Zoning of 0.9 Acre from P (Parking) to C3 (Fringe Commercial), 2111 Packard Street (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 7 Yeas and 0 Nays) (ORD-20-37)

A 0.9 acre portion of a 1.69 acre parcel at 2111 Packard would be re-zoned from P (Parking) to C3 (Fringe Commercial) to allow for development of a mixed use development: a 72 unit, 3-story apartment building. The project will include 118 bedrooms, 84 surface parking spaces, and 3,642 square feet of retail space at each corner of the building that fronts Packard Street. (This commercial location is currently a BGreen Restaurant Supply and Mathnasium.) The proposed zoning is consistent with the adjacent zoning, the surrounding land uses, and the City's Master Plan.


PH-4/DB-2 (20-1796) Resolution to Approve 2111 Packard Site Plan and Development Agreement, at 2111 Packard Street (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 7 Yeas and 0 Nays)

This is the site plan for 2111 Packard. See PH-3/B-2.


PH-5/DB-3 (20-1468) Resolution to Approve the Annexation of 1290 Dhu Varren Road, 2.52 Acres, 1290 Dhu Varren Road (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 7 Yeas and 0 Nays)

A 2.52 acre parcel in Ann Arbor Township (1290 Dhu Varren Road) will be annexed into the City. Its current use is consistent with the adjacent zoning, land uses and master plan. Council vote on the proposed R1D zoning will be scheduled after annexation process is complete.

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 (20-1777) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Zoning), Rezoning of 7.23 Acres from R1C (Single-Family Residential District) to PUD (Planned Unit Development District), Lockwood of Ann Arbor PUD Zoning and Supplemental Regulations, 2195 East Ellsworth (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 7 Yeas and 0 Nays) (8 Votes Required)

This is the same as PH-1 above.


B-2 (20-1779) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Unified Development Code), Zoning of 0.9 Acre from P (Parking) to C3 (Fringe Commercial), 2111 Packard Street (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 7 Yeas and 0 Nays) (ORD-20-37)

This is the same as PH-3 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.

There are no ordinance first readings at this Council meeting.

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.


DB-1 (21-0058) Resolution to Approve Lockwood of Ann Arbor PUD Site Plan and Development Agreement, 2195 East Ellsworth (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 7 Yeas and 0 Nays)

This is the same as PH-2 above.


DB-2 (20-1796) Resolution to Approve 2111 Packard Site Plan and Development Agreement, at 2111 Packard Street (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 7 Yeas and 0 Nays).

This is the same as PH-4 above.


DB-3 (20-1468) Resolution to Approve the Annexation of 1290 Dhu Varren Road, 2.52 Acres, 1290 Dhu Varren Road (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 7 Yeas and 0 Nays)

This is the same as PH-5 above.


DC-1 (20-1999) Resolution to Appoint 3 At-Large Members to the Council of the Commons, and Confirm the PAC Appointment to the Council of the Commons

This resolution will appoint three at-large members and confirm appointment of a representative from the Parks Advisory Commission to the Council of the Commons.


DC-2 (20-1841) Resolution to Approve the City of Ann Arbor Membership in the Washtenaw Regional Resource Management Authority (WRRMA)

(This was removed from both the 1/4/21 and 1/19/21 agendas)

If approved, the City Administrator will take the necessary steps for Ann Arbor to join the Washtenaw Regional Resource Management Authority (WRRMA). The current members of WRRMA are: Ann Arbor Township, the City of Dexter, Pittsfield Charter Township, the City of Saline, the Township of Scio, the City of Ypsilanti, and the Charter Township of Ypsilanti.


DC-3 (21-0187) Resolution Requesting that the City Administrator Determine the Cost and Feasibility of Supplemental Snow and Ice Removal of our Pedestrian Infrastructure to Improve Pedestrian Safety

This resolution directs the City Administrator to determine the cost and feasibility of supplemental snow and ice removal of our pedestrian infrastructure to improve pedestrian safety. Potential projects would remove the snow and ice that collects on sidewalks, driveway aprons, bus stops and crosswalk ramps due to city plowing and specifically maintain crosswalks.


DC-4 (21-0188) Resolution in Support of an Equitable Community Engagement Policy

The City Administrator is directed to develop an Equitable Community Engagement policy to build on existing community engagement practices and the ongoing work of boards, commissions and volunteers. This policy will represent best practices and be produced by March 1, 2021


DC-5 (21-0127) Resolution to Approve Amendments to the Council Rules

New Council Rules would be adopted. Among other things, they will limit discussion and debate of agenda items with reduced speaking times for Council Members (second speaking time limit changed from 3 minutes to 2 minutes), with a goal to end Council meetings before 11 p.m. Requests for additional discussion and debate of agenda items would require a 3/4 vote of approval (nine Council Members). Council members are directed not to “assail, question or impugn the integrity, character, or motives of another Member” in any context (inside or outside of the meeting). The Presiding Officer (Mayor) will have full discretion to determine whether this violation has occurred and either grant an offended Council Member two minutes of speaking time or call a Council Member out of order for making the complaint.


DC-6 (21-0203) Resolution to Approve Drive-Through COVID Testing Site at Briarwood Mall, 100 Briarwood Circle, as a Special Event

A Special Event would be approved for a drive-through COVID testing site at Briarwood Mall, 100 Briarwood Circle (south of the former Sears wing). This is intended and needed for more than 60 days, exceeding the current limitations for any temporary outdoor activity in this zoning district. Staff recommend designating this special event until the end of 2021.


DC-7 (21-0214) Resolution to Restate the Purpose and Membership of the Council of the CommonsThis resolution re-states the purpose and membership of the Council of the Commons, adding one at-large member. The Council of the Commons will have eleven voting members affirmed by City Council and appointed to two-year terms unless otherwise stated.

Additional thoughts…

The Consent Agenda this week includes three significant purchases of park land for a total cost to the City of $2.8 million - one purchase outside of the city (CA-7) and two purchases within the City limits (CA-10 and CA-11). All purchases will use Open Space and Parkland Preservation Millage funds that are designated for this purpose.


Agenda item CA-7 would purchase 375 acres in Salem Township, ultimately costing the City $1,122,367 (30% of the purchase price). This would be the largest Greenbelt purchase in the history of the program. Cost-sharing terms with the County and use of grant funds (to reimburse the City) make up a total purchase price of $3,570,000.


The two proposed purchases within the City limits in agenda items CA-10 and CA-11 are remarkable in terms of context. In my written questions to the agenda (Legistar Link) I asked about recent parkland purchases within the last five years: how much money has been spent on such purchases within the City? Staff’s response include this chart on page 7 of "parkland acquisitions funded in whole or part by the Open Space & Parkland Preservation millage within the city limits since 2015." (note that "FMV Price" = Fair Market Value of the property, and "Total Parks cost" = amount the City actually paid)

Summing the columns, the total Fair Market Value of the 8 properties purchased since 2015 is $1,246,172, but the City only paid a total of $562,661 (averaging 45% of market value). On this week's agenda, items CA-10 and CA-11 total over $1.7 million in spending on parkland within City limits. This will be paid to private developers who have offered no price discounts in their terms of sale.


Agenda item CA-10 would spend $1,507,500 on a woodland parcel of 3.77 acres adjacent to Mary Beth Doyle Park, with frontage on Cardinal Avenue. This purchase would marginally extend a park that is already quite large (80+ acres), for the benefit of “improved access.” This parcel is currently zoned as a PUD, which would permit the construction of nineteen homes. In response to questions this week, Council received the following explanation: “The City has negotiated a discounted sale price on some parkland acquisitions, but in this particular case the applicant was unwilling to entertain a discount.” Presumably, the developer has abandoned a plan to build homes there and now asks the City to pay the full value of the investment.


Map of the proposed park purchase in CA-10 (Legistar Link)


Agenda item CA-11 would purchase 0.6 acres of land at 2570 Dexter Road for $211,500. The intended use of this property is very specific: park amenities that don’t exist at nearby Veterans Park (e.g. basketball courts) can be constructed there to serve the needs of residents at West Arbor affordable housing development. Like CA-10, this purchase fully compensates an individual developer with no negotiated discount on price. City staff explains that the developer “would not be interested in a discount on the sale price.”


Map of the proposed park purchase in CA-11 (Legistar Link)


I look forward to conversation at Council regarding these three purchases - they are a good example of how our Consent Agenda often contains issues worth discussing further.



Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!

Elizabeth Nelson ENelson@A2gov.org


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