<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> First January 15 sec

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Caucus

The City Council holds a caucus meeting each Sunday prior to a Council meeting.  This meeting is an opportunity for members of Council to discuss agenda items -- and pending issues -- with each other in public view.  Members of the public are welcome to attend to bring issues to the attention of Council members.  Caucus is held in the basement at City Hall through December, 2014.

The Caucus starts at 7 pm.

December sunrise

January 3, 2015


Dear neighbors

On a deeply clouded Michigan morning, sunrise is only a brightening of the sky.  We were lucky on New Year’s morning, however, to see blue sky and sunshine all day.  I hope that is a forecast of a great year to come.


On the calendar

Tuesday, January 6th

Planning Commission meets at 7 pm for a working session in the basement conference room at City Hall
The Planning Commission has one item on its working session agenda – a request by the property owners at the corner of State and Huron to redefine the PUD regulations for their property.  This lot is in the historic district, and has been used for offices; the owners wish to preserve the existing buildings but allow some residential use in two of the buildings.

Wednesday, January 7th

The Pedestrian Safety and Access Task Force will meet at 5 pm in the basement conference room at City Hall.  Here’s a link to their very crowded agenda.

Thursday, January 8th

The City will host the first Sustainable Ann Arbor forum for 2015 at 7:00 pm at the Downtown library.  The topic for this first event is Sustainable Buildings.  Subsequent forums will be held on the second Thursday of each month through April 9th.

Friday, January 9th

Please come to the Artists Reception for the Art From the Hood exhibit at the Burns Park Senior Center at 6 pm.

Saturday, January 10th

The Ann Arbor Democratic Party will meet at 10 am at the Ann Arbor Community Center, 625 N. Main.  I share this information because those present will consider whether to approve the following (draft) resolution:

Ann Arbor Democratic Party
Resolution on Trust Building & Professional Standards for Law Enforcement Agencies & Peace Keeping Officers
With regard to order, civility, safety and healthy relationships between citizens and law enforcement agencies employed by and charged with serving the citizens,

Be it resolved that the Ann Arbor Democratic Party supports:

1. improved communication, coordination and alignment between law enforcement agencies operating in Ann Arbor area communities;
2. ongoing and improved diversity, sensitivity and de-escalation training for peace officers;
3. body cameras and vehicle cameras for first responders;
4. mental health evaluations for peace officers;
5. improved community engagement by peace officers; and
6. a citizens review board.

Monday, January 19th

The City Council meeting will be postponed until Tuesday, January 20th in honor of Martin Luther King Day.  This meeting will be held in Council Chambers, as the work removing asbestos will be complete.

 


Updates

A2 FixIt

I sometimes have a bit of trouble using A2 FixIt.  Maybe you do, too.  Please be persistent.  I recently reported several areas with streetlights out to the City – and heard back from several others who had also reported those non-functional streetlights.

While immediate satisfaction – for potholes, street lights, snow maintenance, vegetation issues – is not guaranteed, the City really maintains a record of issues and lets me know when something I’ve reported has been fixed.

Snow removal

Rain following a light dusting of snow – not really bad weather for January.  But I always expect snow to appear magically when I least want it, so here’s my commendation for the day:

Neighbors in the Water Hill neighborhood pooled resources and purchased a SnowBuddy snowplow to clear all the sidewalks in the neighborhood.  And they plan to take turns driving it.  I look forward to hearing how well this works – and how effective the neighborhood support remains.


On the Horizon

Meeting Relocations
City Council (Jan. 5) meeting will be held at the County Administration Building, 220 N. Main St., County Board of Commission public meeting room. Meetings will continue to be cablecast live on CTN Comcast Channel 16 and available live online and via video on demand. 

The following public meetings will be relocated to the basement conference room at Larcom City Hall. These meetings will not be cablecast live on CTN, but will be taped for later replay and available via video on demand. 
Zoning Board of Appeals
Greenbelt Advisory Commission
Parks Advisory Commission
Historic District Commission
Public Market Advisory Commission
Environmental Commission


Agenda highlights

City Council meets Monday, January 5.  Planning Commission meets Tuesday, January 6 in a working session.  The Council meeting will be held in the County Commission meeting room (220 N. Main, the old post office).  Council chambers are closed while the asbestos is being removed.  The Planning Commission meeting will be held in the basement conference room at City Hall.

Chickens

The City Council will hold a public hearing and then decide whether to amend the ordinance governing the keeping of chickens to allow up to 6 hens.  The possible amendments would also eliminate the requirement that adjacent neighbors approve the application for keeping chickens.  I’ve heard from several neighbors that they support increasing the allowable number of chickens, but several have concerns about whether the City should eliminate the need for residents to gain neighbor support.  Urban farming – such as it is – ought to encourage neighborhood engagement – so if you have concerns, ideas, questions or advice, I hope you will share with me.

Development

On the agenda for First Reading is a petition to rezone a lot at Green and Plymouth Road from Planned Unit Development (PUD) to Fringe Commercial (C3).  This rezoning would be the first step toward having a Plum Market at 3601 Plymouth Road.

The City Council will hold public hearings and vote on two changes to the City’s zoning ordinances governing downtown development.  The first change would be to create a new definition of the Main Street Character District Overlay Zoning to include D2 (interface zoning).  The second change would be to rezone a lot at Main Street between William and Packard.  This lot is currently D1; the rezoning would make this the only D2 parcel in the Main Street Character District. 

Just a reminder: there is no height limitation for D2.  The limits on the height and location of buildings in the downtown are codified in the various character district overlay zoning regulations.

I have a lot to say about this here, including a very complete explanation of the zoning changes.  In general, the proposed changes to the Main Street Character District definition would allow a building that is up to 120 feet tall at the corner of Main and William, but that could not be taller than 60 feet on the remainder of the lot.  Here’s a link to a set of concept (building envelope) images that the property owner was asked to create, based on the change in zoning.  Please note that no new construction is currently under consideration; this change was initiated by the City, not by the property owner.

If changes to the Main Street Character District definition are approved by Council, then rezoning the lot to D2 should follow.

If this issue makes you curious or concerned, please let me know.  I’ll do my best to answer any questions.

Streets and sidewalks

Two ordinances return to the agenda for First Reading.  At the October 6th meeting, the Council postponed a potential amendment to the ordinance governing driver and pedestrian behavior at crosswalks and a potential amendment to the ordinance governing vegetation in public rights of way to allow the Pedestrian Safety and Access Task Force an opportunity to comment on both.

The City Council will discuss the funding and budget for sidewalk and crosswalk work along Nixon Road to Clague.  The City and the Schools applied for a Safe Walk to Schools grant, which will fund a significant portion of this work.  Additional funding would come from a special assessment of adjoining properties, a voluntary contribution from AAPS to cover partial costs of the segment on school property at Clague, and additional funding from the Alternative Transportation budget and the street millage.  (This work includes installation of a crosswalk flashing light [Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon] on Green Road at Kilburn Park.)

Other

The City has received a communication from the State of Michigan indicating that the annexation process for several parcels (in Ann Arbor Township) is continuing.  The City will be notified when the State determines whether annexation may proceed.  This is standard practice – and is part of the planned annexation of township islands.  A map of these parcels is included in the attachments.

There are always other items on the agenda that I haven’t highlighted.  To learn more about what the Council will discuss on Monday, December 1, please look at the general agenda information.


I gave myself Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change, by Peter Calthorpe.  I plan to start reading during year-end.  My spouse heeded my words, and gave me two books on the relationship between town and gown:

Town and Gown Relations: a Handbook of Best Practices, by Roger Kemp.

Town-Gown Collaboration in Land Use and Development, by Yesim Sungu Eryilmaz.

So much to read, so much to learn.  Thank you for all your recommendations.