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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. 

The Caucus starts at 7 pm.

Festifools

April 5, 2015


Dear neighbors,

With the weather finally beginning to warm up, I see more and more people outside – doing early spring yard cleanup, taking a brisk walk, riding a bike.

Updates

 

Deer Management

The City will hold a third public meeting on deer management on April 16th. 

The staff was tasked with developing a deer management plan that had community support.  The charge to the staff included the stated desire that the City collaborate with various other governmental units and non-profit organizations in Washtenaw County to develop a community-supported deer management plan. 

I don’t know what the deer management plan will look like, what it will cost to implement, or what immediate or long-term impacts it could have on our quality of life and the deer among which we live.  I do know I am going to the Third Public Meeting on Deer Management, April 16th at 7pm in the Slauson Middle School auditorium.  I hope to see you there.

Development

The City is asking for your feedback on downtown zoning through a survey.  Working with Open City Hall (the survey instrument) is sometimes difficult, so please bear with me.  This link will take you to the main survey page.  At the bottom of the page is a section called “Your Response” and a button named “Post” – and you must click the button to get to the actual survey questions.  Because the survey allows only one response per visitor, you must be willing to accept cookies.

I really hope you will respond to this survey.

Transportation

The City has a significantly larger amount of funding this year for street maintenance, due particularly to the County’s decision to impose a one-year millage for road repair.  This means that, for the third year in a row, there will be a lot of construction around town, a lot of detours and many people feeling annoyed and inconvenienced.

Some projects – such as the construction on Pontiac Trail – will continue from last year; others will be new projects for this year.  You can stay aware of street closures and traffic issues by visiting the City’s web page on road and lane closures.

The final traffic study report on the DhuVarren / Nixon / Green intersection was released on March 11th, followed by a staff report on March 30th.


On the Agenda            

City Council meets on Monday, April 6th; Planning Commission meets on Tuesday, April 7th.  Both meetings begin at 7 pm in City Council Chambers at City Hall.

Neighborhoods

There will be a public hearing and later a vote on whether to rezone 0.09 acres of property at 2562 Newport Road as R1A.  This tiny piece of land should have been included in an earlier resolution to rezone; this resolution addresses that error.

The effort to move forward on filling the sidewalk gap on Nixon Road continues.  Partially funded by a Safe Walk to Schools Grant (from 2012), this sidewalk will connect Green Road to Clague Middle School’s entrance.  The City also expects the adjacent property owners – who are considered to directly benefit from the installation of the sidewalk – to help cover some of the costs.  On the agenda is a public hearing followed by a vote on whether to establish a special assessment district and assess those property owners.  The Northbury Condominium Association has requested that all Northbury Condominium owners be assessed equal amounts.  At this time (2015), the City asserts that sidewalks are improvements to private property, not that they are public accommodations that benefit the entire community.  I look forward to this discussion.

Parks

The City Council will consider amending the lease for the parking lot at 416 Longshore Drive, increasing it by $9,000 and allowing it to be used seven (7) days a week, not only on weekends.  This lot has been used for overflow parking at the popular Argo Canoe Livery and Argo Cascades.  One significant question is whether this lot will be properly graded, with planned drainage and a good surface this year. 

Now that the Skatepark is up, running, and such a rapid success, there is a need to establish effective oversight.  On the agenda is a resolution to establish a Skatepark Advisory Committee.

Development

At the last Council meeting, the Council agreed to postpone voting on whether to approve the Redevelopment Readiness Communities resolution, and to hold a public hearing.  On the agenda is a resolution to establish that public hearing (public hearings are generally not held for resolutions).

There are several questions about the State’s Redevelopment Readiness Communities program.  The report that the City received on current status (whether it is ready for redevelopment) is here.  Some of the recommendations that have caused concern among some of our neighbors, including:

The resolution on Redevelopment Readiness Communities was postponed to April 20; this is also the expected date of the public hearing.  If you have comments, suggestions or viewpoints, please consider sharing them in advance of or at the public hearing.

Other

There are always other items on the agenda that might interest you.  This agenda includes resolutions about the purchase of dump trucks and a street vacuum as well as several street closings.  And as always, if there are items that interest you, please let me know.


On the calendar

Monday, April 6th, the first of several informal meetings on the current use of premiums in the downtown will be held at 4 pm at Amer’s on Church Street.  For more on this, see below.

Tuesday, April 7th, the Planning Commission meets at 7 pm in City Council chambers.  On that agenda are several items of interest, including the Thurston Pond Restoration Project Site Plan and the South Pond Village Site Condominium Site Plan.

Wednesday, April 8th, the DDA Partnerships Committee meets at 11 am in the DDA offices.


FOOL MOON, April 10th, dusk to midnight on Washington and Main.

FESTIFOOLS, April 12th, 4-5 pm, Main Street between Washington and William streets.


Tuesday, April 14, the City will hold a meeting on the proposed Geddes Ave. Improvements, 6 pm at Tappan Middle School.

Thursday, April 16th the City will hold a meeting to discuss renovations for  both Allmendinger and Hunt Parks, 5:30 pm in the basement of City Hall.

Thursday, April 16th, the City will hold a meeting on the Deer Management Plan, 7 pm at Slauson Middle School.

Redefining the downtown zoning:

Wednesday, April 8, 8-9 a.m. Community Coffee Hour.  Starbucks, 222 South State Street.  Stop by any time during the hour to chat with staff. 

Monday, April 13, 8-9 a.m. Community Coffee Hour. Sweetwaters, 123 West Washington Street.  Stop by any time during the hour to chat with staff.

Friday, April 17, 5-6 p.m. Happy Hour.  Bill's Beer Garden, 218 South Ashley Street.  Stop by any time during the hour to chat with staff.

Sunday, April 19, 3-4 p.m. Community Coffee Hour.  Zingerman's Deli, 422 Detroit Street.  Stop by any time during the hour to chat with staff.


On the Horizon

Redefining the downtown zoning:

Thursday, April 23, 7-8:30 p.m. Public Meeting.  Workantile Exchange, 118 South Main Street.  A formal presentation about the Evaluation project including the feedback gathered with an opportunity to share your comments. 

The budget

The City Council will see the City Administrator’s proposed budget on April 20th.  The City Charter requires a balanced budget; the revenues – in general – must equal the expenditures in the budget.  From time to time, revenue estimates in April are less than those actually received by the end of the following June; equally sometimes revenue estimates can be overly optimistic.  The budget is a forecast, not an actual hard statement of available resources.  What this means is that, at the end of the year, the Council may see some additional funds or some unmet needs.

You can learn more about the budget process here; some of the supporting documents that will shape the budget are accessible in the materials provided to Council at the working session on February 9th, February 23rd, March 9th, March 23rd and March 30th.

In general, the City Council approves use of any fund balance for one-time expenditures (such as a study leading to a deer management plan); it uses increases in revenue for ongoing expenditures (such as implementation of that plan).

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the budget – including any proposed changes to fees – on May 4th.  The Council must approve the budget at the second Council meeting in May; if they fail to do so, the budget as proposed by the City Administrator will be in effect.


I continue to work my way through Deerland, America’s hunt for ecological balance and the essence of wilderness, by Al Cambronne, but find myself much less interested in reading and much more interested in being outside these days.  I hope to see you as I walk through your neighborhood.