<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> FirstMarch 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.  Caucus is held in the basement at City Hall through December, 2014.

The Caucus starts at 7 pm.

A brief thaw at Barton Dam!

February 28, 2015


Dear neighbors,

In my last newsletter, I asked you to take a very short survey that addressed three possible services the City could add – plowing sidewalks, picking up loose leaves, and collecting holiday greens in January.  I am grateful for each response.

In my effort to understand why there has been an increase in the expectation that the City should take over the responsibility of plowing the sidewalks, I researched a number of things – changing community expectations, changing bike and pedestrian use, consistent sidewalk availability throughout the City, and the changes in weather.  I became very interested in changes in precipitation, especially since so many of the long-lasting and difficult issues the City faces deal with water and precipitation – what to do with storm water, how to handle new development, how to manage storm water on streets, how much water is available for household use, how to prevent sanitary sewer backups into homes and how to prevent sanitary sewer overflows into the streams and river.  I wrote a short report on precipitation, snowfall, and your survey responses to the question about plowing sidewalks, and posted that in my blog

You may be curious just about the response numbers, though, so here’s a brief graphic report:

Storm water and snowfall are significant issues.

On the agenda is an amendment to the sidewalk ordinance clarifying snow removal obligations for adjacent property owners.  This amendment is up for first reading – see more details below as I review the agenda.

One of the things about synchronicity – things happening about the same time – is that the results can be either frustrating or charming.  On Friday, the City released the long-awaited Footing Drain Disconnect report, the latest in a series reports related to storm water.  You ought to think about looking over:

I have not yet read all of this information; the SSWWEP alone report is – um – awe inspiring in its technical detail and length.


On the Agenda            

City Council meets on Monday, March 2nd; Planning Commission meets on Tuesday, March 3rd.  Both meetings begin at 7 pm in City Council Chambers at City Hall.

Sidewalks

Particularly timely this winter is a proposed amendment to the City’s ordinance governing sidewalks.  This item is on the agenda for First Reading; a date for the public hearing and Second Reading will be set by Council if the proposed changes are approved at First Reading.

This amendment (actually, a series of amended sections) makes several significant changes.  It clarifies adjacent property owner responsibilities, addresses which property owners are responsible for removing snow from curb cuts and bus stops, and – particularly noteworthy – clarifies the penalties for failing to remove snow.  The significance of this is that Community Standards will now write one (1) warning per property, allowing a grace period of 48 hours to get the snow cleared.  Community Standards officers will not have to determine whether more snow fell in the last 24 hours; instead, that one warning will cover the entire winter season.  Property owners who fail to ensure that snow is removed from adjacent sidewalks, corner curb cuts, and bus stops will face increased likelihood of fines and costs – costs, because the City will have to remove the snow if the property owner fails to do so.

Also on the agenda are some steps that move the City closer to building a continuous sidewalk on Nixon Road from Green Road to Clague Middle School.  The Council will vote whether to direct staff to prepare a special assessment roll (a list of those properties that would be assessed for this public amenity) and on whether to establish a date for a public hearing for the special assessment district (adjacent owners help pay for sidewalk construction costs)

Residents living on and adjacent to Green Road and Nixon Road have been eager to see this sidewalk constructed.

Transportation

In 2013, the City Council approved a bike-share program for Ann Arbor; similar approval came from the Regents of The University of Michigan.  Last year (2014) bike-share racks were placed at a number of locations on the UM campus.  The City, working with the contractor, has been identifying the best locations for bike-share racks on the City’s right of way.  Considerations included any possible impact on traffic, parking, and sidewalk accessibility.  The City believes that those details are firm now.

On the agenda is a resolution to amend the sign ordinance to permit the signage on the bike-share racks; this signage would include instructions and sponsor identification.  If this amendment passes First Reading, there will be a public hearing and a vote at Second Reading.

For a history of this project, here are some links to previous news stories:
http://www.annarbor.com/news/ann-arbor-moving-ahead-with-launching-first-public-bike-share-program-in-michigan/
http://cec-mi.org/mobility/programs/ann-arbor-bike-share/
http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2014/09/arborbike_up_and_rolling_commu.html
http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2014/08/ann_arbor_bike_share_program_t.html

The Hard Stuff

The Ann Arbor Distiller Company, a new business established at 220 Felch Street, is seeking a small distiller license approval from the City of Ann Arbor.  While the City routinely receives requests for liquor licenses for bars – and for brew licenses for brew pubs, this is the first time I’ve seen a license for a distillery come before Council.  If approved, the request goes on to the State of Michigan, which issues such licenses.

Other

As always, there are other items on the agenda, including a number of street closings for events.


Updates

Stadium reconstruction

When the City holds a meeting about a major reconstruction project early in the process, it can seem frustrating for some members of the public.  I was pleased with the attendance at the meeting on reconstructing Stadium (from Kipke to Hutchins), but recognize that many people could have been dissatisfied with the many statements of ‘we are looking at that’ and ‘we do not have those details yet.’  Here’s what I took away from the discussion:

What I heard residents say:

What I wish I had heard:

Traffic congestion, pedestrian safety, and bike safety should all improve once the road surface is replaced.  Storm water management will definitely improve.

Construction is anticipated to last two years – during the summer of 2016 and the summer of 2017.  I look forward to the next meeting and the opportunity to learn more.

Oh, Deer - again

In February, the City conducted the first-ever (baseline) aerial deer count.  Although I have not yet seen any data, I hope that the deer count reflects our individual experiences about where – and how many – deer are in our community.

I’ve heard from many individuals who are advocating for a specific vote on the deer management plan.  At this time, however, there is no plan; there is no item on the agenda, and there is no report to share.  As soon as I have information about the report and an indication of which solutions might be possible in our community, I will share it.

Yesterday, five rough-coated deer were in my yard.

Surveys

Up on the City’s A2OpenCityHall is a survey about dog parks.  Got a viewpoint?  Please share it via the survey.  (And yes, you must be willing to accept cookies.  That ensures that you are counted.)

The Ann Arbor Police Department now has two surveys available to gather citizen feedback on our services and perception on community safety.  The service satisfaction survey invites feedback from citizens that have had an interaction with Ann Arbor Police Department employees.  The community safety survey invites residents to share their perceptions of how secure they feel in Ann Arbor neighborhoods, parks and commercial areas.  Please take a few minutes to complete the surveys listed above under the Quick Links.  These surveys are anonymous.  The police department appreciates your feedback.


On the calendar

Wednesday, March 4th, 5 pm

City Hall, in the basement – the Pedestrian Safety and Access Task Force

Thursday, March 5th, 7 pm

City Hall, in the basement – a public meeting on dog parks.


The City of Ann Arbor will begin additional snow removal from targeted streets. Therefore, drivers parked on those neighborhood streets are being asked to voluntarily remove their vehicles from street parking for a brief timeframe (see schedule below) to assist with the effort. This work will widen roadway access for emergency vehicles and solid waste collection.

The targeted snow plowing will take place between 7 and 11 p.m. at the locations and on the dates listed below. Locations and dates are subject to change should weather or other circumstances require staff attention. Notice will be provided by street signage, notices on vehicles, when necessary, and delivered to every home in the areas.

Cars should be removed from the street before 7 p.m. on the scheduled date. We apologize in advance for the additional noise and any inconveniences this may cause. 

If you have any questions, please contact us by calling the customer service desk Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 734.794.6320. Information can also be found online at www.a2gov.org/roads

Street-Location-Date


On the Horizon

At the edge of the Old Fourth Ward historic district is a (now vacant) parcel of land that was once the subject of a law suit – most often referred to as Glen-Ann Place.  While the site plan for this site has lapsed, and the ownership has changed (Chicago developer Freed sold the site last summer), this site continues to be zoned Planned Unit Development (PUD). 

The new developer is beginning to process of finalizing plans for this site.  There are three things to watch for: 1) there will be a citizen participation meeting on the proposed site plan; 2) the Historic District Commission will discuss the site plan – and will need to approve it before it moves forward; and 3) Planning Commission and the City Council will both hold public hearings on the site plan (assuming it moves forward to Planning and then to Council).

Two houses on Davis may be demolished to make way for a small (4-unit) residential building.  This project is not yet in front of the Planning Commission.

The March issue of the Ann Arbor Observer has an article about the proposed developments on Nixon Road.  It’s not on line – but I trust it was in your mailbox.


One of our neighbors recommended that I read Mindwise, by Nicholas Epley.  I try to take such good advice, so am happy to say that my turn came up at the Ann Arbor District Library.  Once I’m done, you should check it out.

And for fun, there are two books pending: Rebellion: the history of England from James I to the Glorious Revolution, by Peter Ackroyd, and Killers of the King, the men who dared execute Charles I, by Charles Spencer.

If you are interested in learning more about storm water, I highly recommend The Politics of Urban Runoff, by Andrew Kavornen.  I’m going to read it (skim it this time) again.