<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> First May 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.  

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,

Dear neighbors,

Sometimes I swear that the weather can read the calendar.  Last weekend was still cool and rainy; this weekend is warm - so warm some of my daffodils have bloomed fully and been done in two days.
In December the Council appointed a task force to evaluate the public art program and present recommendations.  The amendments to the public art ordinance are on the agenda for Monday, May 6 - this is a first reading; the public hearing will take place at a later Council meeting.
However, members of the task force would like to hear from you .  Please take this survey and provide your recommendations.

On the Agenda

At the last Council meeting, members of the public addressed the Council at several public hearings – and those public hearings lasted from about 8 pm to after midnight.  As the Council began to address the items on the agenda, the late hour and the contentious issues combined to create difficulties for the Council.  As a result, after voting on a few items, the Council postponed the rest of the agenda until May 6. 
This Monday, May 6, the Council will first address old business – the remaining items on the April 15 agenda – before taking up new items.  However, all of the public hearings will take place at the beginning of the meeting.

First up – old business:

Public Hearings: Ordinances

The Council will hold a continuation of the public hearing on possible changes to the ordinance that governs the Downtown Development Authority.  Those who wish to address the Council on this site plan who didn’t speak at the April 15 Council meeting, will be allowed to speak at this public hearing.  Then the Council will consider the proposed changes that affect DDA Board membership, how the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenue is collected, and how the DDA can allocate funds.
This ordinance revision, sponsored by Councilmembers Kunselman and Kailasapathy, has been discussed effectively in The Chronicle on March 3rdMarch 9thApril 10April 11 and April 25 of this year.
The draft language would make changes to both the governance of the DDA and the mechanism by which Tax Increment Financing is calculated and allocated.
Here’s a link to the current ordinance for the DDA, and another to the 2003 Development and Tax Increment Financing Plan that is referenced in this ordinance.
The Council will also continued the public hearing on proposed changes to that part of the sign ordinance that addresses billboards.  The changes would primarily affect electronic billboards – the type that has multiple cycling messages.

Public Hearings: Resolutions         

The public hearing on the 413 E. Huron Street site plan will continue, as this item was postponed.  As a result, those who wish to address the Council on this site plan who didn’t speak at the April 15 Council meeting, will be allowed to speak at this public hearing.
The Council will also hold a public hearing on a possible expansion of a fraternity house at the corner of State and Monroe.  Theta Delta Chi is seeking approval to construct a 2,366 square foot addition to the rear of the existing fraternity house, and add bike storage, dumpster screening, and a patio area to the site. No change in the current occupancy of 33 residents is proposed.  The site plan was revised to meet a City Planning Commission request that the petitioner work out the Monroe Street driveway configuration to avoid interfering with on-street metered parking. The petitioner worked with the Downtown Development Authority to arrive at a mutually agreeable drive opening location. Permission to alter a nonconforming structure, and variances for the proposed number of parking spaces, the driveway width, and the width of the conflicting land use buffer were granted by the Zoning Board of Appeals at its meeting of March 27, 2013.

Then new business:

Public Hearings: Resolutions

The Council routinely holds public hearings on the budget during the first meeting in May.  This year is no different.  Public hearings on the agenda are for Fees for Public ServicesFees for Community ServicesFees for Fire Department Services (inspections, fire alarms) and on whether to adopt the budget as currently proposed.  The Council will not vote on these items during Monday’s meeting; the vote to amend or approve the budget takes place on May 20th.  The proposed budget can be seen here.
The Council will also hold a public hearing on a proposed new development on Hideaway Lane.  This small area, just off Traver Road and adjacent to Leslie Science Center, has previously been approved for development; this is a new proposal with a different site plan.

Ordinance and Site Plan

Back on the agenda – for the fourth time – is site plan for a parcel on Ellsworth near Stone School Road.

Ordinances, First Reading

Carried over from the April 15th meeting, Council members Warpehoski and Anglin propose a new ordinance that would regulate governmental video surveillance.  This ordinance would not regulate whether an individual property owner or business could install security cameras, but would regulate the circumstances under which the police could install such cameras.  This ordinance is up for First Reading; a public hearing will be held at a future date.  In light of the events in Boston on April 15 – and the use of many security camera recordings – all from private security – this could be an interesting discussion.

New to the agenda are two ordinance revisions dealing with public art.
The Public Art Task Force – appointed members of Council (Council members Briere, Kunselman, Petersen, Taylor, Teall) – have been meeting since December.  Before bringing their recommended revisions to the Council, the task force worked closely with City staff to ensure that the proposed revisions didn’t put a significant burden on staff members, and that the revised ordinance would be easy for them to implement.
(Take the survey on public art – designed by the City with input from task force members.)

Also new on the agenda is an ordinance revision that resets the mechanism for potable water and waste water ‘improvement charges’ for new (infill) construction.  Council member Kailasapathy and I are sponsoring this amendment.


Brought by Council

The Council may agree to withdraw objections to the liquor license renewal application from The Arena. 

Brought by Staff

The City has begun the process of reconstructing the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP).  This project consists of upgrading, reconstructing and/or replacing the aging and deteriorating elements of the WWTP.  On May 6th the Council will be asked to establish a contingency budget ($9,978,874) in case there are cost overruns or unanticipated issues.  Contingency budgets are typical for any construction budget, and important for budgets as large as this one (the construction budget is set at $92,929,000 – and the design and project management budget is set at $10,802,423).  $3,717,160 of the contingency budget would come from the Sanitary Fund Capital Budget; the remainder of the contingency budget and all other funds comes from a State Revolving Fund loan.

Residents and business owners near Fourth Avenue between Huron and Liberty have been waiting for some time for that street to be reconstructed.  The agenda includes a resolution to award a contract for that work.  Currently this section of South Fourth Avenue is in need of several improvements. The street pavement is in a poor condition and should be repaved. The existing water main between East Huron Street and East Washington is in poor condition and undersized. This project will replace the existing 4-inch water main with approximately 320 feet of new 12-inch ductile iron water main.
Also included in this project is the installation of a Stormwater Management System which will allow rainwater to collect in a stone reservoir located under the street surface and infiltrate back into the ground, thereby removing flow from the City's storm sewer system. The project will also include the reconstruction of the street, replacement of the curb and gutter, and replacement of curb ramps and some sidewalk.  
This project is being funded by the Water Fund, Street Resurfacing Millage, and the Storm Water Maintenance Fund, the latter of which will be repaid as a loan to the State Revolving Fund (SRF). It is anticipated that the City will receive 50% loan forgiveness on this project.


There are always other items on the Agenda that might interest you.  Street closings are proposed in connection with the Ann Arbor Marathon (additional locations) and for the Police / Fire Open House on May 11 (closing 5th Ave. between Catherine and Huron).  Special assessment districts for continued improvements to Miller Avenue are proposed (see map).  The City Council may also accept a grant to provide new safety equipment for the Fire Department (an upgrade to the exhaust systems for the fire stations) and purchase new protective gear.

On the Horizon

Wednesday, May 8th
The North Main Huron River Vision Task Force will meet in the basement at Larcom between 5-7 pm.  This meeting will focus on the final preparations for a presentation of the Task Force’s recommendations.  (That event is scheduled for May 22nd from 6:30 – 8:30 at the Ann Arbor Community Center.)  All meetings of the Task Force are open to the public.
The Project Management staff will meet with the public in the Council Chambers at Larcom between 6-8 pm to discuss proposed improvements for South Fourth Avenue between East Huron Street and East Liberty Street, as explained here.  This meeting will allow city staff to share an overview of the construction plans, schedule and temporary construction traffic control plan, and will address questions and concerns.
Tuesday, May 14
The East Stadium Bridges will be dedicated in a brief ceremony at 10 am.  The ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 14, 2013 near 1501 S. State Street, next to the E. Stadium Boulevard Bridge over S. State Street. Congressman John Dingell will be joined with representatives from the national Department of Transportation, as well as officials from MDOT, Washtenaw County, City of Ann Arbor, project contractors, neighbors, and the public. Temporary public parking will be available on the University of Michigan Red Lot adjacent to the bridge over S. State Street.

What am I reading?

Sometimes I am forced to buy books, as what I want to read isn't available from the library.  And when that happens, I like to share the wealth.

I've been reading two books by Julie Campoli: "Visualizing Density" and "Made for Walking: Density and Neighborhood Form."  I highly recommend these to anyone who is concerned about increased density, open space and green space, and effective urban design.  If you need to borrow a copy (one person I know referred to these as '$50 books') I'd be willing to consider it