<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Second April 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.  

But I will not be holding office hours on Monday, April 22.  If you want to meet to talk, give me a call.

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,

April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.  Or, to quote someone other than T.S. Elliot, April is a flirt – promising warmth and growth while delivering rain and impatience.  This seems a typical April to me.  I have some plants hanging out in the house, waiting for the rain to stop and the soil to warm a bit more before I put them in the ground.  The deer came by for a visit yesterday – and this morning I see some of my early dark blue hyacinths have been nibbled.
Everyone has to eat.
I hope this warmer weather has you out and walking.  If, like me, you’ve been planning your routes based on where the sidewalk ends, there are several changes in the City’s expectations about sidewalks.
Council member Kailasapathy and I attended a meeting at Northside School on Wednesday, April 10; the topic was whether there was neighborhood support for filling the sidewalk gap along Barton at the approach to the boardwalk.  There isn’t any question in my mind that this gap should be on the priority list.  I’ve been hearing from residents – and talking with City staff – about this gap for years.  The next step – one that the Council has taken twice this year with other projects – is to authorize staff work on the engineering drawings.  That should come to the agenda in the next month – although budget discussions may delay it until early June.
For months City staff members have been meeting with members of the Ann Arbor Public School Board, AAPS staff members, AATA staff members and representatives of UM, discussing transportation issues.  On Monday, April 15, Superintendant Patricia Green is scheduled to present to Council information about the sidewalk gap program for the schools – along with a report from this transportation working group.  See also the draft Non-Motorized Plan.

On the agenda

Public Hearings: Ordinances

The Council will hold a public hearing on possible changes to the ordinance that governs the Downtown Development Authority.  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 10 and April 11 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.

Public Hearings: Resolutions

The public hearing on the 413 E. Huron Street site plan has been reset, as there were sufficient changes in the proposed design of the building that speakers should be able to address those changes.  As a result, those who wish to address the Council on this site plan, including those who spoke at the public hearings during the March 18th and April 1 Council meetings, 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.

Ordinance and Site Plan

Back on the agenda – for the third time – is an ordinance to annex and zone a township parcel (Summit Townhomes) on Ellsworth Rd. near Stone School.  The site plan for this parcel – if the zoning is approved – is also on the agenda.

Ordinances, First Reading

Council members Warpehoski and Anglin have sponsored 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.


Brought by Council

There are no resolutions brought by Council.

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 April 15 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.

Also at the Wastewater Treatment Plant: the staff are requesting $122,595 from the Sewer Fund Capital Budget for professional engineering services to design new secondary effluent pumps (we won’t talk about what these pumps do, but a few months ago one of the six (6) pumps failed catastrophically). While no effluent was released into the river, it has become clear that these pumps need to be replaced.  This is not part of the reconstruction of the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Continuing the work at 721 N. Main, the staff are requesting approval from Council to apply for a transportation alternatives program grant from that’s the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).  The City has already received a grant from Washtenaw County’s Parks and Recreation for $150,000 and has applied for a grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.  These grants will help fund renovation of the floodway portion of the land at 721 N. Main, creating stormwater improvements, walking and biking trails, and a new public park.


There are always other items on the Agendathat might interest you.  The City may purchase a lot adjacent to the Ruthven Nature Area (along Geddes Rd.) for an expansion of that public land.  DTE is seeking an easement across Riverside Park for the construction of their new Buckler substation, which is improve the electric service stability for the downtown – and for the north side of town.

 Click here to learn more about these and other items on the agenda.

On the Budget

The City Administrator will present his budget to the Council – and to the public – at the second meeting in April, although for the first year since I’ve been on Council, Council members received their draft budget books early.  The draft budget is also on line.

The Council will hold a public hearing on the budget on May 6th; most likely, the Council will vote on May 20th on possible amendments to the budget as well as on the budget as a whole.  The City Charter requires that the Council approve the budget as written or to make amendments to it before the end of May.  I do not yet know what amendments Council members will consider.

First Ward Town Hall

Council member Sumi Kailasapathy and I will host a Town Hall meeting on April 18 at the Northside Grill from 7 to 8:30 pm.

(printable poster linked above!)

Public Participation Meeting

Thursday, April 18
6–7 p.m. (just before the Town Hall Meeting)
Traverwood Branch Library.

First Martin owns property on Traverwood adjacent to the library, Stapp Nature Area and the Leslie Golf Course.  First Martin has scheduled a citizen participation meeting for Thursday, April 18, 2013, 6 pm at the Traverwood Branch Library, 3333 Traverwood Drive, to present a development proposal for the vacant site at 2255 Traverwood Drive, just south of the library. The Traverwood Apartments project proposes 251 apartments in 11 two-story buildings with 13 units and 11 garages each; and 3 four-level buildings of 36 units each over interior parking. 2 parking spaces per unit are proposed.  See the announcement in the postcard for more information.

Solar Panel Meeting

Wednesday April 24
6:30 – 8 pm
Pierpont Commons Boulevard Room (corner of Murfin and Bonisteel)

The University of Michigan has scheduled a neighborhood meeting to present and discuss its plans for the second solar panel array to be installed on North Campus. The panels are expected to be installed this construction season on the north side of Fuller Road, between Bonisteel and Beal in the vicinity of the existing storm water detention demonstration project. Contact Jim Kosteva, University of Michigan Director of Community Relations at kosteva@umich.edu for more information.

R4C/R2A Zoning District Study Report

Tuesday, April 16, 2013
7 pm
Council Chambers, Larcom City Hall

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed R4C/R2A Recommendations Report.

On the Horizon

Sunday, April 14: 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Argo Canoe Livery Set Up — This fun, annual spring set-up day is spent cleaning and preparing the facility for opening. Help paint paddle boats, organize supplies, etc. Contact the city’s Volunteer 365 program volunteer@a2gov.org / 734.794.6230, ext. 42510 / www.a2gov.org/volunteer

Tuesday, April 16: In addition to the public hearing on R4C/R2A zoning change recommendations, the Planning Commission will also vote on whether to recommend to Council that the draft Non-Motorized Plan be distributed for comment to adjoining jurisdictions (this distribution is required by state law).  The Non-Motorized draft plan makes recommendations on bike lanes, bike paths, sidewalks, sidewalk maintenance, cross walks, and many other items (including bike parking).  Turn to page 28 to learn more about sidewalk gap recommendations, for instance.

Thursday, April 18: 7 pm at the Downtown Library, the final Sustainability Forum will focus on transportation options, including the transition to more fuel efficient modes of transit and non-motorized planning efforts in the community. Speakers will include:

Sunday, April 21: 9 a.m.–noon Sunset Brooks Nature Area Earth Day Workday — Meet at the park entrance on Sunset Road and Brooks Street.  For the nature area workday: minors must either be accompanied by a guardian or have a signed release form in advance.  To get a release form, contact Natural Area Preservation (734.794.6627; NAP@a2gov.org). Please wear long pants and closed-toe shoes.

What am I reading?


In between some boring stuff, I’ve been reading “Empowered Participation: Reinventing Urban Democracy” by Archon Fung.  Several of our neighbors are interested in helping to develop ways to keep residents informed about local issues – which is one of my main concerns.

I’m looking forward to starting Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things” by William McDonough and Michael Braungart.  I’m intrigued by their efforts to change the way we look at manufacturing and materials uses.