<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> First November 14 sec



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.

The Caucus starts at 7 pm.

Last of the dahlias

November 3, 2014

Dear neighbors

I hope your bowls of Hallowe’en candy are emptier than mine.  The harsh winds and cold temperatures kept many kids off my street.  So the glow-in-the-dark putty, pocket-sized skeletons and bouncing eyeballs will be stored for a future year.  And the candy . . . well, I’ll see what is consumed.

As a child, I used to anticipate cold October nights, standing outside in the dark, inhaling deeply and seeing if I could smell snow coming.  I don’t do that as much these days. 

On the calendar

Tuesday, November 4th
Polls open at 7 am and remain open until 8 pm.
Your participation ensures that our community is one that reflects our values.  Thank you for voting.

Wednesday, November 5th
5:00 pm - Pedestrian Safety and Access Task Force will meet in the basement of City Hall.  This month, the discussion turns to crosswalk design and location - and to crosswalk law.  State Representative Adam Zemke will attend.

6:30 pm - Stormwater Model and Calibration Study public meeting at the Downtown Library.  Other public meetings to discuss the results of the study are scheduled for Thursday, November 6th, 10 am, at the Downtown Library, and Sunday, November 9th, 2:30 pm at Mallets Creek Library.

7:30 pm - the Planning Commission will meet in City Council chambers.  On the agenda: a pubic hearing and discussion on the site plan for public housing on Platt Road.

Thursday, November 6th
7:00 pm - City Council will meet in City Council chambers.  This is the last time Council will meet in this room until after the new year.  The room will be closed while the City removes asbestos and improves the video system.

November 10th - 14th
A routine annual inspection of the Argo Cascades, located adjacent to Argo Canoe Livery and Argo Dam, will be conducted from Monday, Nov. 10 through Friday, Nov. 14. During this time, the Cascades will be impassable by boat. The City of Ann Arbor has obtained a permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to lower the water level in the Cascades in order to perform the inspection. This work will take place after the Argo and Gallup canoe liveries are closed for the 2014 season.


A2 Fix-it

I hope you are using A2-Fix-it as a mechanism for reporting non-emergency problems – whether it’s your neighbor’s trash containers sitting out all week, a poorly-installed pedestrian ramp, or a street light out, those using this tool seem to get results and feedback.  I’ve received several notices about problems others in the neighborhood report, for instance.

Survey on redesign for Seventh Street

I participate in A2 Open City Hall surveys whenever I can.  But I continue to hear that the links I put in this newsletter don’t get some of you to a recognizable survey.  But I hope you will keep trying, so if the link doesn’t work for you, go to A2gov.org and look at the buttons in the middle and click on “Democracy in Ann Arbor.”  At the top of the third column is A2 Open City Hall, and if you click there, you will see that the only open survey is about the redesign of Seventh Street.

The first part of the survey is really a set of alternative designs, followed by some questions about those designs.  This is your opportunity to offer your response to the ideas.  Please take the survey!  You have until November 25th.  (And for those of you who had problems with the web page – I am sorry.  I hope it works better for you now.)

Development on Nixon and Pontiac

On Tuesday, October 21st, the City Planning Commission approved the annexation, zoning and site plan for a new apartment complex on the east side of Nixon Road near M-14.  At the same meeting, the Planning Commission approved the annexation, but not the zoning or site plan, for a proposed new development on two properties on the west side of Nixon Road.  The decision to approve the annexation of those last two properties does not mean that the Planning Commission will – or will not – approve the zoning and site plan as requested by the developer.

On a future agenda of the Planning Commission will be a public hearing and recommendation to Council for the revised North Sky project – including rezoning and site plan.

Road work

There are no new street closures.

Residents of Northside Avenue let me know how pleased they have been with their newly constructed speed humps – and how concerned they were about changes to the design of the bumpouts that complete the traffic calming installation for this small street (curving, hilly, limited visibility, no sidewalks).  The City listened to those concerns and, after looking at the situation more closely, let the neighbors know that the bumpouts will be lengthened.

If you drive Barton and Pontiac Trail regularly, I encourage you to relax at the stop light and not cut through the local, neighborhood streets. 

Snow removal

Since we don't have a child at home any more, we were able to stay home and stay warm on Hallowe’en.  I understand others were lucky enough to see Hallowe'en snow.  And that made me think about winter coming - as if I weren't already.

Residents have 24 hours after the snowfall ends to remove snow from the public sidewalk in front of their home.  If they live on a corner or, in some neighborhoods, at a T-intersection, they are also responsible for removing snow from the curb cuts.  Some of us find this task a burden - due to age or infirmity.  Others don't think it is important.  But I hope you understand the value to the community - and the cost to all of us if we expect the City to perform this task.

The City is responsible for removing the snow on public land - including park paths, bridges and crosswalks.


On the Horizon

Wednesday, November 19th, the Pedestrian Safety and Access Task Force will hold a community-wide meeting in which residents will be encouraged to share their input regarding pedestrian safety and access in the City of Ann Arbor. The meeting will take place at the Downtown Library from 6:30–8:30 p.m.

Complementary to the efforts of the Council-appointed Pedestrian Safety and Access Task Force, this meeting has been planned to identify pedestrian safety and access issues as they relate to the entire city, targeted areas and specific corridors. Prioritization of issues and opportunities related to engineering, planning, education, outreach, policy, and enforcement will be the topics of discussion.

A new condo unit is proposed for N. First (near Kingsley).  This unit would be adjacent to the new rain garden at the corner of Kingsley and First, and a block away from another new condo development at Ashley and Kingsley.  The plans call for access to the building - for pedestrians and cars - from Ashley.  Because this area is in the D2 zoning district, the Design Review Board will review the plans.  The scheduled Design Review Board meeting is set for November 19 at 3:00 pm in the City Hall basement meeting room; because of the small size of the proposed development, it does not require a Citizen Participation meeting.

Redevelopment Readiness - a State program that the City has been working on – with State funding – is intended to encourage better zoning and, to some extent, more redevelopment.  The preliminary report has just been issued; a joint meeting of City Council and Planning Commission to discuss the results of the report is likely in January.

Meeting Relocations
City Council (Nov. 17, Dec. 1 and Dec. 15) and City Planning Commission meetings (Nov. 18, Dec. 2 and Dec. 16) 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. 

The Cable Communications Commission and Commission on Disability Issues will meet at CTN, 2805 S. Industrial, Suite 200.

Agenda highlights

City Council meets THURSDAY, November 6th.  Planning Commission meets WEDNESDAY, November 5th. 

Various items

At least once a year The Council Rules Committee (of which I am a member) recommends changes to the Council rules – the rules that govern the agenda and, to a small extent, behavior during the Council meetings.  For more than a year this committee has been discussing a set of ‘ethics’ rules.  Most of the proposed changes to the current rules grew out discussions at the Council meetings about the need to clarify a situation.  The ‘ethics’ rules, however, are a response to concerns voiced by the public that Council members might be acting contrary to their roles as representatives.  At this meeting – the last of the current Council – the Council will discuss proposed changes to the rules – including the addition of ‘Council ethics rules.’  This item is on the agenda now because it is Council member Petersen’s final meeting, and she has been the primary energy behind drafting the section.

There are some other changes to the section on behavior at Council meetings, though, that have been proposed by others on the Rules Committee.  I’ve made some notes on the rationale behind some of the changes; you can follow this link to read the redlined version of the rules.

If the rules are approved at the November 6th meeting, the new Council should also approve them on or before December 15th. 

I recommend you read these rules as if they were two separate documents – one that addresses the Council organization, the Agenda organization, and the conduct of Council members and audience members during the Council meetings, and one that addresses conflict of interest situations and the improper use of official position.


Mahindra Gen-Z is seeking a tax abatement for three (3) years on its property as it invests further in its electric scooter business.  If approved by the Council, this request would be forwarded to the State of Michigan for approval and enactment. There will be a public hearing on this item before the Council votes.  Council approval does not guarantee State of Michigan approval.

The Greenbelt millage has been in the news lately, as it reaches its first decade.  And on the Agenda is a resolution to acquire the development rights to a property in Pittsfield Township – acting in concert with Pittsfield Township and using funds from a donation by Cherry Republic to help cover the costs.  Approval of acquiring the development rights takes 8 votes.

Back on the agenda is a proposed extension of the lease with The University of Michigan for the use of three parking lots on Fuller Park.  Discussion about this lease led to further investigation into the health of a grove of oak trees just north of the VA Hospital.  This, in turn, may lead to a clarification of the condition of those oaks, and who is responsible for maintaining them.  Approval of the lease takes 8 votes.

The University of Michigan Credit Union is seeking a change to zoning, a new site plan and for the City to vacate a portion of the roadway (currently a parking lot) at their property (2727 S. State Street). 

Also back on the agenda (postponed from the October 20th Council meeting) is a resolution to allow Dahlmann Corporation (the owner) to temporarily use the Old Y lot for additional downtown parking, with 50% of the net proceeds to go to the City’s Affordable Housing Fund.  Dahlmann Corporation is required to construct a building on this site and receive a certificate of occupancy for that building by January, 2018.  (Mr. Dahlmann’s sales agreement included the requirement that a building be constructed on this site by the end of 2017.) (Here’s a link to the ‘rider’ that specifies the conditions of the sale.)

There are always other items on the agenda that I haven’t highlighted.  To learn more about what the Council will discuss on Monday, October 20, please look at the general agenda information.

Electronic books are a great invention – but they don’t always tempt me as much as a new hardback.  There’s something about the feel of a book in my hands, my ability to turn the page back, look at a map in detail . . . But there’s also something to be said for the limits to my real bookshelves.

I have a new book to read, when I get to it, and it seems very timely: Beyond Red and Blue: How Twelve Political Philosophies Shape American Debates, by Peter Wenz.  A big ‘thank you’ to my spouse.