<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> SecondAug 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.  

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,

Dear neighbors,

August is usually hot and humid.  Lemon meringue pie melts; angel food cake doesn’t rise – something about egg whites and humidity. 

Everything usually gets crammed into the last few weeks of August.  And that long list of things we were going to do during the summer melts away like a high school summer reading list.  The sun sets too early and rises too late for us to get it all done.  Of course, there is that sense of accomplishment as things finally get ticked off the list – but somehow, the list doesn’t shrink as fast as the days.

At the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, I met a neighbor who – before 7:30 am – had already walked around Argo pond.  I was introduced to new neighbors and visitors from out of town.  And the market was at its best – with apricots, peaches, pears, apples and plums mixed in with blackberries, raspberries and blueberries.  New potatoes, multi-colored carrots, beets and salad greens competed for my attention with sunflowers and chocolates. 

I hope you are savoring these days.

Updates and meetings

Resurfacing Barton

Although I haven’t received a final note, the City staff told me earlier this month that they expected to work on the intersection of Barton and Pontiac Trail as part of the resurfacing of Barton.  This work will be done on Sundays, and will re-route Pontiac Trail and Barton traffic through neighborhood streets – including Chandler. 

Last Saturday Council member Kailasapathy and I took a walk on Traver and observed the ongoing Barton reconstruction.  If this is your route to work or home, and you see problems with the detours and traffic management, please let me know.

Crosswalks and sidewalks

This season the City has been fixing sidewalks – and in the First Ward, most of those sidewalks have been in the Old Fourth Ward and North Central area, although the sidewalk on North Main (between Depot and M-14) has also been repaired.

Council member Kailasapathy and I, on that neighborhood walk last Saturday, took the time to use the signaled crosswalks on Plymouth Road.  Perhaps you haven’t used a crosswalk yet.  Here’s what we saw:  When the button is pushed to use the crosswalk, a recorded voice tells pedestrians that the crosswalk indicator has been activated.  It encourages pedestrians to use caution before entering the crosswalk, as cars may not stop.

While we crossed Plymouth, with the lights blinking and cars stopping, we watched a car zoom through the crosswalk – a few feet behind us – without slowing down.  State law – not local law – requires stopping at any crosswalk if someone is using it. 

Several council members have requested that the staff look carefully at the crosswalk indicators to determine if they are effective, clear, or confusing.  The staff will also consider whether the recorded voice – which announces the crosswalk light is activated – can be delayed by a few seconds to give cars an opportunity to either continue through the intersection or stop safely.

Zoning committees

Late summer seems like an odd time to talk about zoning – so many of us have better things to do than go to a meeting or respond to a survey.  The City Council has requested that the Planning Commission and planning staff take another look at D1 zoning – and in response, the City has held a number of casual meetings, focus groups and community meetings to identify any issues with the current D1 zoning descriptions.  The next step is to begin proposing solutions.  All of the data collected so far can be found on the City’s website.  The Planning Commission is expected to make any recommendations by October 1, 2013.

In 2009, the Planning Commission was tasked with considering changes to the R2A (duplex)/R4C (central area multi-family) zoning districts.  A committee was created to advise the Planning Commission on possible changes.  When the Planning Commission finally presented its report to Council earlier this year, it became clear to some of us on Council that the recommendations didn’t completely reflect those of the citizen Advisory Committee.  Council member Higgins proposed re-activating that committee and having them look at the report from the Planning Commission with an eye to finding a way to resolve the differences.  The first meeting of this renewed committee took place on Wednesday, August 14; the next meeting will be Wednesday, August 28th at 7 pm in the basement at Larcom.

A committee related to the D1 zoning review is the Design Guidelines Task Force, which is meeting to determine possible changes to the Design Review process as part of D1 approval process.  I haven’t been able to find the dates of the task force meetings; no meetings are scheduled for August.

Upcoming meetings

The Planning Commission meeting for Tuesday, August 20th includes a resolution that the Council issue an RFQ/RFP prior to offering the old Y lot for sale.  Earlier that day, Council member Kailasapathy and I will meet with the broker hired by the City to explore the sale of this land. 
(The proposed development at the old orchard on Glendale is not on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting.)

On the agenda



Consent Agenda

The Council will consider a resolution to fund a complete Dam Safety Inspection and report for Barton and Superior dams ($53,600).


The City periodically issues bonds to help fund the drinking water system.  On the agenda is a request to issue $3,150,000 in bonds to the Michigan Finance Authority as part of its Drinking Water Revolving Fund program.  These bonds will fund improvements to the drinking water system, including improvements to the Barton and South Industrial Pump Stations electrical improvements projects.  Revenues from the water supply system will be used to pay for the bonds.  Because the closing date for the bonds is in September, the Council will take a final vote on the issue.

A property on Devonshire was recently annexed into the City.  The Council may rezone that property from township to R1A (single family).  This is a first-reading; the public hearing will occur at a subsequent meeting.


All resolutions being offered at the Council Meeting for Monday, August 19th are proposed by staff.

The Council will determine whether to extend its contract for CLEMIS information sharing services.  These services are used by the City’s police department, and include Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD), CAD Mobile, Report Management System, fingerprinting and mug shots for use by local police and sheriff agencies.  The use of this specialized and integrated technology service allows many public safety organizations across Southeast Michigan, including Washtenaw County, to share information and intelligence across agency and government boundaries, improving public safety responsiveness and the overall safety of the Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County communities.

The funding for participation in CLEMIS information sharing services was budgeted and approved in the FY2014 Information Technology Services Unit budget, and is planned for in the FY2014 IT Fund Budget.


Of course, to me the agenda is always interesting, but this week is unusually non-controversial.  As always, the agenda contains things I didn’t highlight.  For instance, there are a series of utility easements, and some street closings (Octoberfest, September 20-21).

I continue to track the City Council’s priorities on each agenda.  By my count, this agenda includes 7 items that address infrastructure, 2 items that address safety service needs, and 4 items that are more general, including those street closings.

On the Horizon

The Joint DDA/City Council committee will meet on Monday, August 26th to discuss possible changes to the ordinance governing the DDA.

The Park Advisory Commission and the Parks staff will hold Dog Park public meetings on Tuesday, August 27 in the basement of Larcom (301 E. Huron Street) and Wednesday, September 11 at the Cobblestone Farm Barn (2781 Packard Road).  Both meetings are scheduled to begin at 7 pm.  At this meeting, community members can discuss the results of the dog park survey and talk about various elements of successful dog parks.

Have you considered attending Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training for residents?  The Ann Arbor Police Department’s Office of Emergency Management is accepting applications for the Washtenaw County CERT training program – but you need to apply by 5 pm on Friday, September 13.
The training program includes weekly classes (6:30 – 9:30 pm) from October 1 through November 12.  The CERT program educates residents about disaster preparedness for hazards, and trains them in basic disaster response skills.  If you are interested in applying (you will need to agree to a background check) you can find an applications at the City’s website.

Ann Arbor voters approved a millage for the Greenbelt in 2003; since then, the City has been using the revenues of the millage to purchase development rights to properties outside the City – as well as using it to acquire additional park land in the City.    The program has protected more than 4,200 acres of farmland and opens space surrounding Ann Arbor, and has leveraged over $20.8 million of grants, landowner donations and other locally funded programs.  If you would like to know what’s going on with this project, join the Greenbelt Bus Tour on September 21.

Climb aboard an air-conditioned, luxury motor coach for a tour of the Greenbelt Program’s protected farm and open-space properties Saturday, Sept. 21 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The cost is $10, and light refreshments will be served. Please register by Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, by contacting Project Director Ginny Trocchio, 734.794.6000 ext. 42798 / gltrocchio@a2gov.org.

And when September starts, don't forget to come to the River Hop (Sunday, September 8)

What am I reading?

It’s August, so I’ve been filling my brain with some mysteries and science fiction for pleasure.

I continue to think about the author’s viewpoint in City Rules: How Regulations Affect Urban Form

I’ve begun Biophilic Cities: Integrating Nature into Urban Design by Timothy Beatley and now have a hard copy of Rethinking a Lot: the design and culture of parking.  If anyone wants to borrow actual (not electronic) books, just let me know.