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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 Council Chambers.

The Caucus starts at 7 pm.

Taken a couple of years ago - curious fawn and mom

May 5, 2014


Dear neighbors, deer neighbors

On Friday morning, May 2, I walked out to pick up the paper and came back to the house – having made a short detour to convince six deer to leave my yard.  Time was that the deer would be frightened of me; that time is past.  I had to move close, challenging one of the deer, to get this small group to go down into the woods.

I’ve changed a lot in my garden over the past decade or so.  I don’t plant many tulips; I anticipate deer depredations, and I still sometimes stand at the door, taking photos of these beautiful (to me) creatures.  I wouldn’t do that for a raccoon, generally.  But the deer herds have just grown larger and larger in the nearly 30 years we’ve lived in this house.  Deer used to be a rare sight – now they are common.  And while I’m willing to coexist, I completely understand the concerns others have, as they watch their young trees eaten, their native plantings cropped to the ground, their more exotic greenery and floral displays consumed before they can be enjoyed.  One person wrote about the cost of replacing those plants; another voiced concern that deer might attack a pet dog (well, only if threatened) or spread Lyme disease (a possibility, but not yet an issue).

If the growing deer population concerns you, please know that it concerns many in city and county government.  Please see below for a resolution that is on Monday’s agenda to help find a way toward a solution.

In the last newsletter, I asked you to take a survey on how you think a public space on the library lot should be used.  This space has already been established by the City Council – as part of the process leading to the sale of development rights.  Over 100 people responded in the first couple of days – and then the Ann Arbor News published a link to the survey.  The total number of people starting the survey exceeds 500 – and almost all finished it.

As a resident, I attended Calthorpe meetings, Connecting William Street meetings and PAC meetings.  I took surveys on whether and where to place a new park downtown.  I read the results.  And I listened to people talk with me about what they expected to see.  It became clear to me that there was no consensus.  The survey responses to this survey made that even more clear.  So, while we have, as a community, talked a lot about increasing the amount of public open space downtown, we haven’t agreed on what that space looks like, who pays to build and maintain it, how we provide security, and how it can best benefit the community.  And that’s the discussion I believe we need to have before the development rights are sold with the expectation that the developer will make those decisions.

Click on the Survey page to get both the survey report and – for those who need it – the raw data.

Updates

The budget

The City Administrator presents two-year budget plans (although the budget is only approved one year at a time).  This allows for more thoughtful planning.
One year the Council and the community discuss the two-year plan; the next year, the discussion is about the second year of that two-year plan.  This is the second year of the budget cycle; there are few surprises.

Proposed budget recommendations include:

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the budget on Monday, May 5.

Traffic calming and traffic enforcement 

The City Council authorized funds for police overtime – so the police would be better able to focus on traffic enforcement.  As the weather warmed up, I heard from many people commending the police for their efforts.  I commend them, as well.  Enforcing traffic speeds and traffic laws isn’t always pleasant (the police are frequently abused by drivers angry at the ticket) but it results in a much safer community.  One of our neighbors on Pontiac Trail has been very happy with the results – and shared that happiness with me and the City.

Residents on Seventh Street and several adjacent streets have been asking for enforcement for some time.  One creative way for the request: this officer interacts with neighborhood children.  (Thanks for the link, Kevin Leeser!)

Fixing streets

The old joke about there being two seasons in Ann Arbor – winter and road construction – is certainly proving to be the case this year.  Road construction started last week; difficulty getting around town started immediately afterward.  The Ann Arbor News is running a series of stories on the inconvenience of construction.

As a reminder, though, several of the inconvenient (and badly needed) projects are not part of the City’s reconstruction project – Carpenter Rd. is not in Ann Arbor; Ann Arbor Saline is being done by the Washtenaw County Road Commission and Jackson is being done by the State of Michigan.  Here’s a list of the Ann Arbor projects:

Sections of W. Madison will be closed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, May 5 and Tuesday May 6 for crews to complete water service line repairs.

Temporary Traffic Control Plan for W. Washington from First Street to Fourth Avenue beginning Monday, April, 21 until June 6, 2014. 
During the daytime work hours, traffic will be maintained with the use of flaggers and/or block-by-block detours.  Traffic will be restored to two-way each evening.  Toward the end of the project, there will be two separate days of paving. During paving days, W. Washington will be closed and vehicles will be detoured using Liberty and/or Huron.
—  Parking will be restricted (with meter bags) intermittently as needed during the construction.
—  Pedestrian traffic will be maintained on at least one side of the street during this project.
—  To maintain the safety of all, please reduce speeds and drive cautiously through work zones.

Resurfacing

Major Streets

 Local Streets

 
Visit the Street Resurfacing webpage for more information related to the projects above.

Reconstruction Projects

 

Road reconstruction and resurfacing, traffic calming and safe traffic speeds are all closely tied to pedestrian safety.  As we talk about filling sidewalk gaps, improving crosswalks, and fixing streets, we have to keep in mind that the ultimate goal is a safer and better community for us all.

On the calendar

Tuesday, May 6th

Transit Millage

At a polling place near you
7 am – 8 pm

Please remember to vote!

Planning Commission meeting

Special location: 220 N. Main (the old post office)
7 pm
At this meeting, the Planning Commission will consider rezoning 425 S. Main (the corner of Main and William) from D1 to D2.  This is the recommended action.  Here’s a link to the staff report for the rezoning.  While all other D2 zones and character districts have a maximum height of 60 feet, the Ordinance Revision Committee recommends a maximum height of 100 feet

Also on the Planning Commission agenda: rezoning the parcel on which Baker Commons is built to D2 from public land (this action is the result of changes in the public housing program).  And the annual review of the master plan and all its subsidiary plan elements.

On the Horizon

Cobblestone Farm Market

Spring Festival and Market Opening
Tuesday, May 20, 4-7 pm


Support the Coleman Jewett Memorial!

A pair of bronze Adirondack chairs will be permanently installed at the Farmers Market. To Donate: Mail a check to Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation with “Jewett Memorial” in the memo; 301, Suite 300, N. Main, AA 48104. Or go to this link on their website to donate.


On the Agenda

The May 5 agenda is pleasantly short.  The last Council meeting adjourned at 9:30.  I’d love to promise that all future meetings will focus more on the facts and less on rhetoric.  I’ll try to take my own advice, and keep things short in this newsletter.  If you want more background on any item, you can read The Chronicle’s preview of the agenda.

Public Hearings

Public Hearings may be held on resolutions; they are required for all ordinances.  On the May 5th Agenda, there are several public hearings without any vote – so please note these.

A public hearing on the rezoning of 2.02 acres of land (a gift to the City) from R4D – multi-family – to public land, as an addition to the Stapp Nature Area.  The Council will hear from the public and vote on the rezoning at this meeting.

A public hearing only on a special assessment for the Newport Road area residents to help cover the cost of constructing a new sidewalk.  If you have an opinion on this special assessment, please come to the public hearing or write to Council members.
A series of public hearings only on the budget – action on the budget is expected at the second Council meeting in May, May 19th.  These public hearings are on Public Services Fee Adjustments, Community Services Fee Adjustments, and on the proposed budget and its allocations.

Ordinances

New and amended ordinances require two readings.  A public hearing is held at the time of the second reading.  Public hearings may be held over if the ordinance is postponed at second reading.

Ordinances, second reading

The Council will vote on whether to rezone 2.02 acres of land from multi-family to public land, and add this portion to the Stapp Nature Area.  A public hearing on this ordinance will be held prior to the Council voting.

Ordinances, first reading

Two ordinances are on the agenda for First Reading.  If each passes, the public hearing on the ordinance change will be held at a future Council meeting.  These ordinances cover a rezoning of 515 Oxford from multi-family to ‘student dwelling district’, and proposed amendments to the ordinance for Drive-Through facilities.

Resolutions

Resolutions from Council

A revised resolution seeking the reappointment of two Environmental Commissioners is on the agenda.  Commissioner David Stead, who has served the Environmental Commission – and the environmental movement – for many years, has determined that his professional life is so busy that he cannot effectively make commission meetings.  This decision required that his name be withdrawn from nomination.

Deer

Council member Lumm has been concerned about deer and deer management for some time.  This resolution directs the City Administrator to work with the County, the County Parks, the Humane Society and other organizations to determine an effective means of controlling deer population – and then defining how those means will be applied in our community.  The resolution is sponsored by Council members Briere, Kailasapathy, Lumm and Petersen (representing the First and Second Wards).

Resolutions from Boards and Commissions

Three site plans are on the agenda (see the public hearings, above).

Resolutions from Staff

Some times what seems to be a real solution to a problem turns into a problem.  That is the case with the Footing Drain Disconnect Program, and by extension with the contract with CDM Smith Michigan, Inc. (CDM) for managing that program.  On the agenda is an amendment to the contract, extending its timeline by 8 months and increasing the contracted amount by $748,106.  From the memo, “Until the work of the SSWWE Project is completed, and a determination is made as to how the City will handle wet weather flows in the sanitary sewer system going forward, the services of CDM will be required to continue certain aspects of the existing FDD and DOM programs. It is estimated that the scope of services proposed with this amendment will extend CDM's services through January 2015.”

Improving playgrounds – investing in our parks – that’s something we should all be able to support.  On the agenda is a contract for $131,700 to improve the playgrounds at Arbor Oaks, Scheffler and North Main Parks.

Consent Agenda

Street closings for the Glacier Area Memorial Day Parade (May 26), the Ann Arbor Book Festival (June 21) and an added Sonic Lunch (August 21),

Other items: Street closings for the NTI block party on Wednesday, July 30; the Top of the Park (Summer Festival) from June 9 – July 9, and the Rolling Sculpture Car Show on Friday, July 11.

Other

As always, if any issue on the agenda is a specific concern, please let me hear from you.


What am I reading?

A recent trip to the downtown library to hear more about Ann Arbor’s efforts to deal with water and an aging infrastructure had a side benefit – I took the time to look over the ‘new books’ and came back with two:

“The Real War: 1914 – 1918,” by Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart (who died in 1970) is considered one of the best histories of the First World Ward yet written.  Also “Thunder at Twilight: Vienna, 1913-1914,” by Frederic Morton.  If you are sensing a theme here, you are right.  This year I remember the centennial of the start of the First World War.