<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> First May 15 sec

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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.

Magnolia in secret garden

May 3, 2015


Dear neighbors,

Another lovely day to begin the month of May.  My yard is in full bloom with daffodils and hyacinths and a few remaining tulips.  I don’t fault the animals for eating, but have chosen to select my plants with care.  And in this kind of weather, I certainly don’t feel that I should write a lot.

In the past few days, several people have remarked to me that they are seeing more and more rabbits in their yards, and that the rabbits are really damaging their early spring growth.  Rabbits do that.  So do field mice.  And let’s not get started on snails and slugs.  All part of nature’s majesty to me.

Which brings up deer.

Updates

Deer Management

The City’s report on deer management was expected in early April, then before the end of April.  I’ve learned that it is delayed a bit longer – although I’m hopeful that we can see the recommendations by the middle of May.

At the most recent public meeting on deer, City staff indicated that there are three possible interventions – but did not offer any details about what those interventions might look like.  The first option is to kill deer.  The second option is to engage in non-lethal interventions – provide information about ways to make yards less attractive to deer; protect deer-favored plants through fencing and other deterrents; make feeding deer illegal through establishing a local ordinance.  The third option is to blend these two choices together: kill deer and at the same time reduce the ways we attract deer to our parks and yards.

For me, the devil really is in the details.  I am waiting for the report to decide what I think would be the best intervention for the City.

I wrote a small blog piece on deer.  Others have done the same – including Local in Ann Arbor’s many pieces.  And this link will take you to the City’s web page on deer management.

Infrastructure projects for this summer and next summer

The City will be working on the Fuller Road bridges – those railroad overpasses that are on Fuller Road and Medical Center Drive near the hospital.

The City will be filling sidewalk gaps on Nixon, Barton and Scio Church.  This work will cause some traffic delays from time to time.

The City will finish work on reconstructing Pontiac Trail from Skydale to the City limits.

I went through the Capital Improvement Plan and attempted to create a spreadsheet of all of the street, road, bridge and sidewalk work expected during FY2016.  I’ve attached that document here.  All of the currently planned work for this summer can be found on the City’s website.


On the Agenda            

City Council meets on Monday, May 4th; Planning Commission meets on WEDNESDAY, May 5th (moved from Tuesday because of the election).  Both meetings begin at 7 pm in City Council Chambers at City Hall.

Infrastructure

On the agenda are several items of interest.

First, earlier this year the City Council approved construction projects that will repair the bridges on Fuller near the UM hospitals.  This work on the bridges, however, is not the only work needed in the area.  On the agenda is a resolution asking the City Administrator to initiate the final stages of planning to connect the Border-to-Border trail, with passages under the Fuller and Medical Center Drive bridges.  This project has been under discussion for more than a decade; making this connection would provide alternative bike and pedestrian routes that would eliminate some of the pedestrian risk in the area.

Although some of us never use the graveled part of Traver Road, it is still an important connection between neighborhoods.  On the agenda is a resolution to replace the storm sewer that crosses Traver at the railroad tracks.

All winter folks have been waiting for the work on Pontiac Trail to be complete.  The final piece of the puzzle has fallen into place.  On the agenda is a resolution to accept a sanitary sewer easement from Arrowwood.  With this easement, and the resulting connection to the sanitary sewer, work can be completed on the road.  The final piece of sidewalk will also be installed as part of the finished project.

Firestation Number 3 will be getting a new roof this year.  At least, that’s the plan.  Council will discuss and vote on the contract. 

The Council will also discuss and vote on an a budget amendment to increase the appropriation for the contract to install sidewalk on Barton Road (improved access to Bandemer Park) and Scio Church Road (safe access to the bridge over I94 and the Pittsfield library branch).  Although the staff had estimated the cost of construction, and an allocation for this work is in the FY15 budget, bids for the work are higher than anticipated.

Development

The Council will hold a public hearing and then consider whether to approve the site plan for the proposed Flagstar Bank branch on Plymouth Road.

The Budget

The Council will hold public hearings on Community Services fees (including Parks use fees and Planning fees), Public Service fees (including fees for Project Management, Systems Planning and Field Operations), and on the City budget.  The Council does not vote on the budget until the second Council meeting in May.

Other

There are always other items on the agenda that might interest you.  This agenda includes resolutions about significant street closings for a variety of events, including the African American Downtown Festival and the Fourth of July Parade.  And as always, if there are items that interest you, please let me know.


On the calendar

Sunday, May 3rd, 2 pm – 6 pm – the Water Hill Music Festival, all over the neighborhood.  Bring your dancing shoes.

Sunday, May 3rd, 4 pm – 6 pm at Hunt Park, the annual Democratic Party Chili Cookoff.

Tuesday, May 5th, Election Day.  Don’t forget to vote on Proposal 1 and the School Bond!

Wednesday, May 6th, 11 am at Maiden Lane between Broadway and Island Park Drive – the dedication of the plaques on the new UM parking structure that tell the story of historic Lowertown.  Not everyone appreciates a parking structure – I know I objected to this one being built – but the UM worked collaboratively with local history buffs to commemorate the history of the area.  What the UM replaced, the UM remembers.

Wednesday, May 6th the Planning Commission meets at 7 pm in City Council chambers.  

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing and discuss whether to adopt the current master planning documents as the master plan for the next fiscal year.  No changes to the master plan have been recommended at this time, although the City staff and some members of City Council would like to see the entire set of master planning documents – or at least, the land use element – reviewed and revised.  The budget plan for FY2017 includes funding to revise the master plan.

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing and discuss whether to recommend rezoning 3850 Research Park Drive from RE (research) to PP (planned project) and to recommend approval of a site plan for a new hotel.

Saturday, May 9th – The Ann Arbor Democrats will host a candidate forum for Council candidates at 10 am in the Ann Arbor Community Center.  Yes, I will be there.

Saturday, May 9th – the City will host an open house at the water treatment plant with free tours between 11 am and 3 pm at 919 Sunset Road.  See how Ann Arbor’s award winning water is treated!  And you might be interested in the most recent water quality report.

Sunday, May 10th.  Mothers Day.  Lest we forget.

Wednesday, May 13 – the Ann Arbor Station Environmental Review citizen working group will meet from 6:30-8 p.m.at the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority offices at 150 S. Fifth Ave.  This is a public meeting; all are welcome.


On the Horizon

From time to time I hear that developing in Ann Arbor is too expensive, and that development processes are hostile toward developers.  And that’s why there’s so little change in this community.

Really, I’m told that.

So for what it is worth, here’s a quick review.

Several development projects have been through Planning Commission but have not yet come to the City Council agenda.  These projects include:
Nixon Farm North and Nixon Farm South (473 condo rowhouses and townhouses); South Pond Village (73 single family homes); Woodbury Club Apartments (282 new units).  (828 total new homes.)

Several projects are in the design phase, but have not yet come to the Planning Commission for review.  These include:
North Sky on Pontiac Trail (139 single-family homes and 63 apartments or condos); The Vue of Ann Arbor on Maple Road (309 apartments); The Madison on Main (7 story apartment building, number of units to be determined). (at least 500 new homes)

I’ve heard of more large developments being discussed, from a return to creating a design for the empty lot at Glen and Ann (in an historic district) to a housing project on DhuVarren (large township islands remain in that area).

And there are a variety of office, commercial, hotel and mixed-use developments under construction and under consideration.


I recently met the author of Sustainable Urbanism: urban design with nature.  He offered to send me a copy of his book – but of course, I bought my own.

It’s been a beautiful weekend.  At least one of our parks is in bloom with fruit trees – with fruit to follow for the neighborhood to enjoy.  An edible park is a great idea.  I hope to see you as I walk through your neighborhood.