A2Council Meeting Summaries

Month: September 2023

Council Policy Agenda Committee: September 25, 2023

This is a recording I made of a Zoom audio meeting held on Monday, September 25, 2023 by the Ann Arbor Council Policy Agenda Committee. Video was not made available.

Council Policy Agenda Committee members audible in recording:

  • Deputy City Administrator John Fournier
  • CM Travis Radina (acting Chair)
  • CM Cynthia Harrison
  • CM Linh Song
  • CM Chris Watson

Unlike recent meetings of the Policy Agenda Committee, this meeting did not include updates by a lobbyist from Dykema Gossett PLLC. In March 2022, City Council approved a contract for $120,000/year with Dykema Gossett PLLC for State and Federal Lobbying Services. (Legistar)

This is the Legistar link for the meeting: https://a2gov.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=1064318&GUID=C3A311CE-59E0-4426-8DF1-134404D19A3E

Airport Advisory Committee: September 20, 2023

This is a recording I made of a Zoom audio meeting held on Wednesday, September 20, 2023 by the Ann Arbor Airport Advisory Committee. Video was not made available.

Current Airport Advisory Committee members are listed on the City’s website: https://www.a2gov.org/departments/fleet-facility/Airport/pages/airportadvisory.aspx

  • Greg Farris, Chair
  • Melanie McNicholas, Vice-Chair
  • Fred Hall
  • Kelly Burris
  • Rosemary ‘Nel’ Faulkner
  • Mark Perry
  • Theresa Whiting (this term expired on May 31, 2023)
  • Erica Briggs, City Council Representative
  • Chris Watson, City Council Representative
  • Jan Godek, Lodi Township Representative
  • Matthew Harshberger, Pittsfield Township Representative
  • Matthew Kulhanek, Airport Manager

This is the Legistar link for this meeting: https://a2gov.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=1067714&GUID=5D3387AA-8F51-421B-A986-8420C379E6A0

Ann Arbor City Planning Commission: September 19, 2023

This meeting was held in person at City Hall.

APPROVED: Amendments to Unified Development Code (UDC) Chapter 55. Eliminate floor area premiums in Section 5.18.6 Premiums. Remove maximum FAR (floor area ratio as a percentage of lot area) of the D1 (Downtown Core) and D2 (Downtown Interface) in Section 5.17.4 Mixed Use Zoning Districts, Table 5.17-4, currently at 900% and 400%, respectively. (Legistar)

  • These proposed UDC amendments will go to City Council for final approval.
  • From the staff report (link) “The changes will clarify and simplify development expectations and may better encourage downtown density through development forms similar to those currently built.”
  • These amendments were proposed by the consultants Carlisle Wortman Associates, Inc. From their report (link) “The proposed amendments will make it easier for petitioners to reach maximum height, since they would no longer need to navigate the premiums process.”
  • Two commissioners recused themselves and left Council Chambers during this discussion, leaving seven commissioners remaining.
    • Chair Wonwoo Lee “recused himself from the discussion noting his employer owns property in the D1 Zoning District“. According to Linkedin, Wonwoo Lee is the Chief Real Estate Officer for Oxford Companies. At the July 18, 2023 meeting, Wonwoo Lee was elected Chair of the Planning Commission.
    • Commissioner Lisa Sauvé “recused herself from the discussion due to her active participation of a petition in the D1 Zoning District“. According to LinkedIn, Lisa Sauve is the Principal/CEO and Co-founder of the Synecdoche architecture firm.
  • https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2023/09/bigger-is-better-downtown-zoning-changes-headed-to-ann-arbor-council.html

POSTPONED: Planned Unit Development (PUD) text amendment for 3520 Green Court, which will also require City Council approval. This item was postponed to the October 17, 2023 Planning Commission meeting. (Legistar)

  • According to the staff report (link) “The original PUD Zoning was approved in in 1998 for five parcels totaling just over 35 acres. Four of the parcels have existing buildings that were constructed just after the original PUD approval in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. One of the parcels addressed as 3525 Green Court has remained vacant and is 7.2 acres in area
  • A pre-petition PUD conference for this property was held with the Planning Commission on October 11, 2022. (Legistar) No minutes or video of this meeting were made available by the City.

APPROVED: R4A zoning and amended site plan for the “Village of Ann Arbor” development at 1710 Dhu Varren. Two parcels totaling 5.9 acres were recently annexed into the City, and are proposed to be rezoned R4A, consistent with the existing parcels in the development. The amended site plan adds four apartment buildings with 120 units, a parking lot with 185 spaces, and a park area. (Legistar)

APPROVED: Annexation of 3701 and 3713 Riverside Drive from Ann Arbor Township with R1B zoning. The two parcels total 0.74 acres. (Legistar)

  • The annexation and zoning requests will go to City Council for final approval.
  • From the staff report (link), the petitioner originally requested R1A zoning, with the intent to “sell the parcels for development opportunities“. Staff recommended the parcels be annexed with R1B zoning for consistency with surrounding parcels. The zoning request was amended by the Planning Commission to R1D.

Legistar and Video Links

Legistar: https://a2gov.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=1069319&GUID=7049A4D0-45B9-45D1-914F-93DADC46B676

YouTube: https://youtu.be/jbGCBLwB8Qk

CTN Video: https://ctnvideo.a2gov.org/CablecastPublicSite/show/8838

Meeting Length: 3h 46m

Ann Arbor City Council: September 18, 2023

This Ann Arbor City Council meeting was held in person at City Hall. Members of the public can participate in public hearings and public comment either in person or via phone.

A2Council Update Video

Ann Arbor City Council Meeting Summary

APPROVED: Two parcels at 2670 and 2690 Ann Arbor-Saline Road are rezoned from Single-Family Dwelling district (R1C) to Office District (O). The house at 2670 was previously a rental home and is currently an office. The house at 2690 is currently nonconforming in its use as an office and personal storage unit. (Legistar)

APPROVED: An ordinance amendment lifts the requirement that one member of the Transportation Commission be the “owner or operator of a transportation business operating in the City of Ann Arbor.” (Legistar)

  • This ordinance amendment was first considered by City Council at the August 7, 2023 meeting, and postponed at the request of Council Member Harrison, who suggested that bylaws designate one seat for someone over the age of 55. https://a2council.com/ann-arbor-city-council-august-7-2023/
  • At their meeting on August 16, 2023, mayoral appointees on the Transportation Commission unanimously rejected the idea of designating a seat for someone over the age of 55. (Legistar)
  • The Transportation Commission was first established in 2016, when the Taxicab Board was disbanded. Since 2016, the Transportation Commission has included eleven members:
    • 6 members of the public
    • 1 owner or operator of a transportation business operating in Ann Arbor
    • 1 member of the Planning Commission
    • 1 member of the Commission on Disability Issues
    • 1 individual appointed by the board of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority
    • 1 member of City Council
  • Moving forward, seven members of the general public will serve on the Transportation Commission.

APPROVED: The 2023 Council calendar is amended to add two work sessions: Tuesday, September 26 and Monday, October 23. The original calendar approved on 12/5/22 included only three work sessions. (Legistar)

APPROVED: The purchase agreement for 350 S. Fifth (“Y Lot”) will be amended to remove a requirement that the property be developed with affordable housing within fifteen years of sale (Legistar)

  • On August 21, 2023, City Council unanimously approved the “sale” of City-owned property at 350 S. Fifth (“Y Lot”) that transferred $6,200,000 from the Ann Arbor Housing Commission to the City’s General Fund. Staff confirmed that approximately $5 million was needed to relieve debt attached to the property and additional funds from the Housing Commission (~$1 million) would be used for “other initiatives.” (Legistar)
  • That purchase agreement included the condition that if the property was not developed within fifteen years, it would return to the City at no cost. The Ann Arbor Housing Commission has requested that this condition be removed.
  • At their September 5, 2023 meeting, Council unanimously approved budget allocations for the $6.2 million received from the Ann Arbor Housing Commission for the “sale” of 350 S. Fifth. Those allocations included $828,250 put toward the purchase of a new Election Center and CTN studios at 3021-3023 Miller Road. (Legistar)

A2ELNEL Voting Chart

Ann Arbor City Council Voting Chart for September 18, 2023 Part 1
Ann Arbor City Council Voting Chart for September 18, 2023 Part 2

Ann Arbor City Planning Commission Working Session: September 12, 2023

This meeting was held remotely using the Zoom application.

This was a working session to review Planning Unit Development (PUD) zoning proposals for two developments. No votes were held at this meeting.

PUD Pre-Petition Conference: 228 Packard PUD Zoning District and Site Plan

PUD Pre-Petition Conference: 125 S Main PUD Zoning District and Site Plan

  • From the agenda: “A presentation and discussion about the conceptual plans for a Planned Unit Development for a 14,532 square foot (0.33-acre) site at the corner of South Main and East Washington. The proposal calls for redeveloping the site with a 24 story 215,000 square foot building containing approximately: 75 residential units, 200 room hotel, 12,000 square feet of retail space and 75 below-grade parking spaces. A rooftop amenity area is proposed for the residential and hotel guests.”
  • https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2023/09/24-story-skyscraper-proposed-on-ann-arbors-main-street.html

Legistar and Video Links

Legistar: https://a2gov.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=1069354&GUID=8C5EFCCE-075D-43D6-8F41-1B2B43F0DE2D

YouTube: https://youtu.be/8rpcUIKSGjY

CTN Video: n/a

Meeting Length: 2h 19m

Council Administration Committee: September 12, 2023

This is a recording I made of a Zoom audio meeting held on Tuesday, September 12, 2023 by the Ann Arbor Council Administration Committee. Video was not made available. Note that the Zoom audio quality is poor.

These meetings are public and theoretically accessible for anyone to attend, both in-person and via phone, My recording illustrates the poor quality of phone access – unlike other meetings held by boards and commissions via Zoom, the audio quality of phone-access is so poor that it is extremely difficult to hear what is said much of the time.

Council Administration Committee members audible in recording:

  • City Administrator Milton Dohoney Jr
  • City Attorney Atleen Kaur
  • Mayor Christopher Taylor
  • CM Erica Briggs
  • CM Chris Watson

These members were declared absent at the start of the meeting:

  • CM Jen Eyer
  • CM Travis Radina

This is the Legistar link for this meeting: https://a2gov.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=1070016&GUID=00F420B1-D390-47A8-9931-A202EABE61F0

Ann Arbor City Planning Commission: September 6, 2023

This meeting was held in person at City Hall.

APPROVED: 2805 Burton Road – Brightdawn Village Site Plan Amendment. A proposal to reduce the size of the indoor gathering building by approximately 2,000 sq ft, adjust sidewalks and utility leads, relocation of barrier free parking and electric vehicle charging updates per current edition of UDC (Unified Development Code) on this 8-acre site zoned R4B (Multi-family Residential) (Legistar)

APPROVED: 1800 Washtenaw Avenue – Evans House for Scholars Special Exception Use, increasing occupancy from 65 to 107 persons. No proposed changes to exterior of house, 0.85-acre parcel, zoned R2B (Two-Family Dwelling) (Legistar)

  • The initial proposal requested an increase in occupancy from 65 to 85 persons. During the meeting, Planning Commissioners approved an increase to 107 persons, which is the maximum number based on the lot area.
  • This item was postponed from the August 1, 2023 Planning Commission meeting: https://a2council.com/ann-arbor-city-planning-commission-august-1-2023/

APPROVED: Proposed changes to the UDC for TC-1 zoning setbacks will be sent to City Council for approval. (Legistar)

  • According to the minutes, “Chair Lee recuesed himself from the hearing due to his employer’s involvement in the project.” According to Linkedin, Wonwoo Lee is the Chief Real Estate Officer for Oxford Companies. At the July 18, 2023 meeting, Wonwoo Lee was elected Chair of the Planning Commission.
  • From the staff report: “The proposed amendments include establishing Transit Corridor as a Street Type Designation and amending the new minimum and maximum required front setback depending on street type designation in the TC1 district provided in Table 5.17-4, as well as a new footnote to describe the curb line to building measurement which would apply to these setbacks. The current minimum and maximum required front setbacks for parcels not on a Transit Corridor street type remain unchanged.”
  • As initially proposed by staff, TC-1 would require front setbacks between 20 to 40 feet. This was amended by Planning Commissioners to be 18 to 28 feet, as measured from the ground floor.

APPROVED: Site plan and Landscape Modification for Blossom Dental at 2680 Packard Road. The developer is proposing a one-story 13,273 square foot building and 29 car parking lot on a 1.21 acre parcel zoned O (Office District). (Legistar)

Legistar and Video Links

Legistar: https://a2gov.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=1069318&GUID=5472102E-A66E-457B-9F70-95E1932D4808

YouTube: https://youtu.be/T3pNz72rxMU

CTN Video: https://ctnvideo.a2gov.org/CablecastPublicSite/show/8785

Meeting Length: 4h 7m

Ann Arbor City Council: September 5, 2023

This Ann Arbor City Council meeting was held in person at City Hall. Members of the public can participate in public hearings and public comment either in person or via phone.

CM Watson was absent

A2Council Update Video

Ann Arbor City Council Meeting Summary

APPROVED: Ten parcels with addresses on South State Street (1601, 1605, 1607, 1609, 1611), Henry Street (714), and White Street (1606, 1608, 1610, 1612) will be rezoned from R4C (Multiple Family Residential) to C1A/R (Campus Business Residential) in order to permit the construction of a development (“SouthTown by 4M”) that includes 216 dwelling units with a 54 space parking garage. (Legistar)

APPROVED: A 20,861 square foot property at 3021-3023 Miller Road will be purchased for $2.9 million in order to house new facilities for CTN as well as an Election Center. CTN facilities are currently located at 2805 South Industrial Highway in a property that is leased from an LLC affiliated with Jeff Hauptman of Oxford Companies. Regarding the new property at 3021-3023 Miller Rd, a memo explains that months ago, Oxford Companies met with City staff to “determine design needs, mock-up a preliminary design sketch of the floor plan and render an estimated cost of construction.” Oxford Companies have been asked to provide “up-to-date service and life-span information” for all mechanical systems. (Legistar)

  • On the Consent Agenda this week, Council approved allocations of $6.2 million that were transferred to the City’s general fund when the Ann Arbor Housing Commission “purchased” the City-owned property at 350 S. Fifth. Those allocations include explanation that some of the funds would be used to purchase this property. (Legistar)
  • Funding for this purchase comes from $996,750 in ARPA allocations, $1,075,000 from general fund balance, and $828,250 in Affordable Housing Funds received from the Housing Commission (proceeds from the sale of 350 S. Fifth to the Housing Commission).
  • https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2023/09/525m-ann-arbor-project-to-create-new-secure-election-center-tv-studio.html

APPROVED: A new ordinance will require sellers of certain residential housing units to disclose a “Home Energy Audit” prior to sale. Requirements do not apply to multi-story/multi-family housing, accessory dwelling units, mobile homes, or commercial buildings. Sellers will provide a Home Energy Score Report completed by a Home Energy Assessor (certified by the US Department of Energy). Included in an audit will be estimates of annual and monthly energy use and cost by fuel type, as well as comparative Home energy scores for similar dwellings. These seller disclosure requirements may be waived at the “sole discretion” of the Director of the Sustainability and Innovations department (Dr. Missy Stults). (Legistar)

APPROVED: Amendments to the TC-1 zoning category address two potential uses: (Legistar)

  • Automobiles, Motorcycles, Recreational Vehicles, Equipment (Sales and Rental)
  • Automobile, Truck, Construction Equipment Repair

These amendments were in response to a City Council resolution (12/5/22 – Legistar) requesting that the Planning Commission “evaluate and recommend amendments to the TC1 Zoning District or Unified Development Code (UDC) that:

  • Incorporate limited automobile-related uses into the TC1 District, excluding drive throughs and gas stations
  • Address constraints of existing narrow rights of way”

  • In a memo (4/18/23 – Legistar), City Staff explained that these amendments do not offer “an evaluation or recommendation to address the constraints of existing narrow rights-of-way, or propose an amendment to the maximum building height limits. These issues will require more time and resources than consideration of permitted uses.”
  • In that memo, City staff recommended that these uses be permitted as a primary use: “Staff recommend approval of the proposed amendment to allow automobile, motorcycle, recreation vehicle, equipment (sales and rental) in the TC1 district.”
  • They explained further: “Given the existing form-based development standards of the TC1 district, incorporating vehicle sales and rental and vehicle repair uses will have minimal long-term impacts. Newly established vehicle sales, rental and repair uses are required to be in buildings of at least two stories, with an active street-level use, and easy for transit and nonmotorized-transportation users to access. As with any business in TC1, auto-related businesses would only be allowed limited areas on site for outdoor storage of vehicle inventory, or vehicles waiting for repair or pick-up.”
  • City Council did not consider this recommendation from City staff. Instead, Council approved the recommendation of five Mayoral appointees on the Planning Commission, who proposed that these categories be allowed only as “special exception use.” By City ordinance, all applications for a “special exception use” are ultimately accepted or rejected by the Mayoral appointees on the Planning Commission.
  • The approval process for Special Exception Use is explained in the “Procedures Summary Table” in section 5.27 on page 170 of the “Unified Development Code Eighth Edition (February 26, 2023)” at this link: https://www.a2gov.org/departments/planning/Pages/Unified%20Development%20Code.aspx
  • It is worth noting: six votes are required for the Planning Commission to act on plans, policy statements, granting of special exception uses, recommendations to City Council, and petitions. Due to three absences and one recusal, the 5-0 recommendation to approve these ordinance amendments was not actually approved by the Planning Commission. Minutes from the 4/18/23 Planning Commission meeting explain that “the motion as amended failed.” http://a2gov.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=12187547&GUID=C4CDE3BC-4F07-41D9-9DDC-F1ADBA46CD8A
  • https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2023/09/ann-arbor-changing-transit-corridor-zoning-to-allow-car-oriented-businesses.html

APPROVED: An ordinance amendment will create a new class of “micro-business” under city regulation of Marijuana facilities. Currently, one category of micro-business is defined as a facility cultivating up to 150 plants and processing/packaging/selling them to individuals over the age of 21. The amendment will establish a second category of micro-business (“Class A”) that allows a facility to cultivate up to 300 plants, package marijuana, purchase marijuana concentrate or infused products from a processor, and sell them to individuals over the age of 21. The new Class A micro business will not be permitted to process marijuana. (Legistar)

  • The amendment also includes an expansion of allowable hours of operation. Currently, marijuana facilities may not operate after 9 p.m. or before 7 a.m. The amendment will permit operation until to 12 a.m. (midnight).
  • City staff response to agenda questions explains that “there has been interest among marijuana business owners to allow extended hours of operation.” Additional staff explanation refers to “discussions among Council Members.”
  • Factors that were considered include discussions among Council Members regarding the disparity between the closing hours of establishments in which liquor can be purchased or consumed (2:00 am) and marijuana dispensaries and consumption establishments (9:00 pm).”
  • Staff explained further: “AAPD had concerns about a potential 2:00 am closing time because of the amount of cash kept at dispensaries. AAPD recommended allowing marijuana establishments to remain open until 12:00 am for a trial period to see if there might be an uptick in crime during the extended hours, and to allow a later closing time if there are no issues with the 12:00 am closing time.
  • Link to Council Agenda Response Memo (8/17/23): https://a2gov.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=12232317&GUID=DA3A6F00-BC22-48A1-A3A9-159A0C12B15F
  • https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2023/09/late-night-marijuana-ann-arbor-oks-new-midnight-curfew-for-pot-shops.html

APPROVED: By resolution, Council eliminates the requirement that traffic calming projects be approved by elected representatives. Moving forward, decisions will be delegated to the City Administrator and he is directed to develop a school traffic calming toolkit by December 31, 2024. A subset of mayoral appointees on the Transportation Commission (“Neighborhood Traffic Calming Committee”) will work with staff on updating and defining programs. (Legistar)

  • This resolution was recommended by mayoral appointees on the Transportation Commission. At their 8/16/2023 meeting (Legistar), the Transportation Commission specifically discussed removing the requirement that over 50% of residents on a street agree to traffic calming strategies before it can move forward. Commissioners, including Council Liaison Dharma Akmon referred to this as a change “to a collaborative model of public engagement, instead of the current empowerment model.” This distinction and shift from past policy was not included in the resolution considered by Council and it was not mentioned in discussion. The resolution on the Council agenda mentioned only that the City Administrator would pursue a “collaborative” model for public engagement.
  • https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2023/09/aiming-to-slow-cars-ann-arbor-taking-steps-to-improve-traffic-calming-program.html

APPROVED: The City will vacate the street/public right of way that was never constructed at E. Moseley from the railroad tracks to S. Fifth Avenue. This location will be used by the University of Michigan for a future development. (Legistar)

APPROVED: The City Administrator is directed to pursue a State of Michigan historical marker ahead of plans to erect a statue at City Hall to honor Kathy Kozachenko, the first openly gay or lesbian candidate to be elected to public office in the U.S. Kathy Kozachenko was elected to Ann Arbor City Council in 1974 from the then active Human Rights Party. (Legistar)

A2ELNEL Voting Chart

Ann Arbor City Council Voting Chart for September 5, 2023 Part 1
Ann Arbor City Council Voting Chart for September 5, 2023 Part 2
Ann Arbor City Council Voting Chart for September 5, 2023 Part 3

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My name is Elizabeth Nelson, and I believe that your local government should be accessible and transparent. Since 2018 , I have sent out a newsletter before every Council meeting with my summary of agenda items coming before City Council, plus news and events of interest to Ann Arbor residents.

After each Council meeting, I create and post voting charts so that you can easily see how Council voted, and update this website with meeting summaries that include links to the City’s Legistar website, CTN’s YouTube video, and articles published on MLive.