<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> First January newsletter 2013

Sabra Briere

First Ward, City Council
995-3518 (home)
277-6578 (cell)

Coffee wakes some of us up

I hold office hours 7:30 to 9 am on Mondays at the Northside Grill. 

While I'm there, I meet with neighbors from all over our community to discuss the issues that concern them.  Lately I've met with neighborhood groups to talk about utility issues. 

The folks at the Northside put up with political talk early in the morning.  If you see me there, please wave, and if you have time, please, join me for coffee and a chat.  


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 Council Chambers and starts at 7 pm.
I go to almost all Caucus meetings.


Dear Neighbors,

I’ve been particularly pleased to have snow for the holidays – but I admit I’m ready for the snow to melt.  After the last snow, some of us experienced difficulties in travel – 7 inches of snow will do that.  Let me pass on some of the ways the City deals with the snow.
The City spreads a mix of sand and salt on major streets when there’s a snow storm that’s very minor.  Minor storms are considered those that give us less than four (4) inches of snow.  Generally, the City doesn’t come into residential neighborhoods to plow or spread grit when there’s a 3 inch storm, although they do treat some specific intersections and streets – hills can be dangerous when untreated.
The City selects the neighborhood snow plowing schedule that works best with the trash collection schedule.  For instance, for many in the First Ward, trash (garbage/recycling) is collected on Wednesday.  If it snows on a Tuesday, the Wednesday garbage pickup will occur before the streets are plowed.  The neighborhood to be cleared first will be one with a Thursday garbage pickup.  This way the plows and trucks aren’t trying to go down the same street at the same time, and there won’t be garbage cans in the street for the plows to hit – at least, not often.  Those neighborhoods with a Wednesday trash collection schedule will be plowed later in the day.
Of course, if it snows on a Wednesday, the folks who have to wait for the plows are those with Thursday trash collection.
I received several calls in the past few days, as people returned to their homes and found snow still piled on their street.  If you are concerned that your street or neighborhood may have been missed or might not have been plowed sufficiently, please call me or the City’s snow desk (734.794.6367) or both. And if you experience a very slippery spot after the plows have been through, you should call. 
If we’ve seen 4 or more inches of snow, you can also call the snow desk to find out when your neighborhood will be plowed; you may also watch the progress of snow plows by going to the snow plow AVL tracking system web page (informational web page) or directly to the online AVL plow map (link).

To give me your feedback on any issue, just send me mail or call me (995-3518 at home; 277-6578 to my cell).

On the Agenda


The North Main Huron River Vision Task Force will present its recommendations for 721 N. Main.  The task force was charged with recommending the best use of the property as part of the Allen Creek Greenway trail system.

Ordinances (Second Reading with Public Hearing)

The Council will consider whether to allow front-yard (Off-street) parking for special events other than Art Fair and fall football games.


Consent Agenda
The Council will vote on whether to approve the design for the skate park in Veteran’s Park.
Brought by Council
The Council will consider whether to accept a US Department of Energy grant for a wind generator.  This grant ($951.5K) requires that the City provide $484,390.00 in matching funds.  The City intends to partner with the Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) and a third party developer to provide the site and financing required to meet the grant's matching fund requirements.  The City's contribution will be approximately $18,590.00 in staff time toward this project, and it will not be making a cash contribution.  This resolution would amend the budget, so it requires 8 votes to pass.
As I mentioned in my last newsletter, at the Council’s retreat in early December, Council members discussed and agreed upon five priorities that will be used to help plan the budget.  The Council will consider officially adopting those priorities at the January 7th Council meeting.  If adopted, the priorities will help the staff set goals for the fiscal 2014 budget.
The December 3rd Council meeting included a resolution on revised building elevations for Packard Square.  Although developers are required to come to Council with any changes to their site plans, this is more for the notification of public that changes are being made, and less to get approval for making these changes.  But at the meeting on December 3rd, Council members asked questions and raised concerns about the quality of the building design as changed.  The Council postponed making a decision; this resolution returns to the agenda for January 7th.
The Council will decide whether to amend the budget and approve a contract with Renaissance Restorations, Inc. to replace roofs at Cobblestone Farm (the Event Barn) and on the Tincknor-Campbell House ($109.5K).  Because this work was not included in the budget when it was approved in May, this item requires 8 votes to pass.

Other Items

There are always other items on the agenda.  For the January 7th meeting, the Council will consider a contract for a new cell phone antennae and the annexation of a housing lot at 2503 Victoria Avenue, among other items.


The Year in Review

I took advantage of the days with no meetings.  Yes, I knit, but I also looked at every Council agenda for 2012 and selected 10 decisions I thought were significant. Let me know whether you think I made good selections!

The Year in Review

On the Horizon

The DDA will present its recommendations for Connecting William Street at a working session on January 14.  Although there is no opportunity for public comment at this meeting, please consider sending any questions you have about the process or about the proposal to members of Council.
At the same working session, the DDA will present its report on the parking system.
The City of Ann Arbor’s Citizen Participation Ordinance (CPO) was designed to ensure that developers seeking approval of certain types of construction or rezoning projects inform neighboring residents and other interested citizens of their proposed plans. The CPO was adopted by City Council to give citizens an early opportunity to learn about, understand and comment on development proposals. The requirements are meant to provide opportunities for citizens to be involved in the development of their neighborhood and community.
Planning Services staff created a survey to determine if the CPO process is helping achieve these goals. It should take about 5-10 minutes to complete. I hope you will take the survey at  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MSTVDR7 by January 18, 2013.

Building on the public forums from last year, the 2013 sustainability forums will focus on planning for change in the community. The series will include four events organized around four of the City’s sustainability goals (www.a2gov.org/sustainability). The events will be held monthly from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Ann Arbor District Downtown Library at 343 S. Fifth Ave. from January through April 2013. Dates and topics for the events are listed below:
Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013 — Sustainable Systems, including the impacts of current and predicted weather changes in the community and on the City’s constructed and natural infrastructure. Speakers will include: Matthew Naud, City of Ann Arbor Environmental Coordinator; Dan Brown, Research Associate, University of Michigan Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments; Jen Lawson, City of Ann Arbor Water Quality Manager; Cresson Slotten, City of Ann Arbor Systems Planning Unit Manager; Rick Norman, City of Ann Arbor Director of Emergency Management; and Jason Frenzel, Huron River Watershed Council Adopt-A-Stream and Stewardship Coordinator
Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 — Economic Vitality, including opportunities to invest in the local economy and to build a strong sense of place in the community
Thursday, March 21, 2013 — Diverse Housing, including how to meet the current and future needs of the community with changing housing demographics, such as older residents, a high rental population, and affordability
Thursday, April 18, 2013 — Transportation Options, including the transition to more fuel efficient modes of transit, such as electric vehicles, and non-motorized planning efforts in the community

Looking for a head start on your new, healthy garden? Consider purchasing a pre-ordered indoor worm bin kit that includes a vermicomposting workshop – or just pre-register and come to the workshop, with no commitment to buying a kit. The City of Ann Arbor is hosting two vermicomposting workshops on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, at the City of Ann Arbor’s Materials Recovery Facility, 4150 Platt Road.  Vermicomposter expert Sarah Archer of Iris Waste Diversion will provide an engaging presentation at both sessions. Pre-ordered indoor worm bin kits are available for $25 each (pay at the door by cash or check) and include a half-pound of red worms, a plastic bin with aeration holes, and the textbook “Worms eat my garbage” by wormwoman.com Mary Appelhof.
Sessions will be held at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9. Please call (734) 794-6000 extension 43118 or email ceasley-appleyard@a2gov.org to make a reservation, as supplies are limited to 20 kits for each session and are sold on a pre-registered basis. Directions to the MRF are posted at www.a2gov.org/mrf. Participants may also take an optional tour of the city’s recycling plant after the vermicomposting demonstration.

The AARP, the City’s Planning staff, the Office of Services to the Aging and the Michigan Municipal League will host a symposium on AGE FRIENDLY COMMUNITIES: GREAT PLACES FOR ALL AGES on February 28th at Palmer Commons from 9 am to 4 pm.

What am I reading?

My son left The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande for me to read, so I’ve been refreshing my brain with how to get things right. Jeff Speck, who works in Grand Rapids, wrote The Walkable City (November 13th, 2012 publication date, so it’s very current).  I’d recommend it, even for those who don’t want to invest more in public transportation or an electric car.

I’m still reading City Comforts, by David Sucher.  (It was published in 2010, so it’s not quite as recent.)  The section on public art – not how to pay for it, but what it contributes to the community – was as interesting as the section on green and open space.  And sidewalk amenities.

And for fun, my husband gave me The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe, by Elizabeth Eisenstein.  Have you ever thought about how big a revolution our electronic media is – and compared it to the cultural changes that followed printing?  Well, that’s what I’m thinking about now.