Ann Arbor City Council: April 1, 2024

Apr 1, 2024 | City Council

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.

Mayor Taylor was absent
CM Ghazi Edwin was absent
CM Harrison was absent

A2Council Update Video

Ann Arbor City Council Meeting Summary

APPROVED: Amendments to Greenbelt conservation policy expand the boundaries of eligible properties, eliminate a cap on administrative expenses, and give the City Administrator discretion to waive a cap on impervious surface. (Legistar)

  • Amendments to Greenbelt conservation policy expand the boundaries of eligible properties. A portion of Ypsilanti township is added as well as a “Sourcewater Protection Overlay District” described as “All land that affects the City’s sourcewaters or drinking water supply, as determined by the City Administrator.” A map of current boundaries of the Greenbelt district can be found here: https://www.a2gov.org/greenbelt/Documents/Greenbelt%20Regional%20Map.pdf
  • Amendments lift the current 6% cap on administrative spending and grant the City Administrator discretion to waive requirements for no more than 2% impervious surface in a conservation easement.
  • The Open Space and Parkland Preservation millage funds City purchases of either development rights under a term agreement or conservation easements in perpetuity. In the first twenty years of this millage, the City has not purchased development rights under term agreements. Since 2003, millage funds have been used to purchase conservation easements in perpetuity, only, in collaboration with neighboring townships and the County.
  • Amendments eliminate the option for repurchase of development rights by the original property owner: “Development Rights agreements shall not provide for repurchase of the Development Rights by an Owner of land from which Development Rights have been purchased by the City”
  • Amendments clarify that in exchanging land rights back and forth, any prior City investment will be restored as millage funds, rather than used at the discretion of Council: “When land or land rights that have been purchased entirely or partly with OSPP Millage funds are subsequently sold, any money received by the City for the sale shall be returned to the OSPP Fund and used for OSPP Millage purposes in equal proportion to the amount of OSPP Millage funds used for the purchase.”
  • https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2024/03/ann-arbor-proposes-expanding-greenbelt-into-ypsilanti-area-plus-new-bluebelt-district.html
  • https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2024/04/ann-arbor-greenbelt-expanding-in-2-ways-including-into-ypsilanti-area.html

APPROVED: By resolution, Council directs the City Administrator to establish an Office of Economic Development. (Legistar)

APPROVED: By resolution, Council directs the City Administrator to alleviate undue burden on land developments by addressing “City inefficiencies” with procedural changes and ordinance amendments. (Legistar)

  • Proposed changes include:
    • Direct planning staff to “significantly lower” the amount of engineering plans required for site plan approval. Planning commission is directed to approve site plans with conditions instead of denying or delaying them.
    • Eliminate public hearings at the Design Review Board and Planning Commission
    • Eliminate site plan review for more categories of development and eliminate corresponding requirements for improvements (e.g. traffic safety, stormwater system, solid waste standards)
    • Delegate more site plan approval to staff rather than the Planning Commission
    • Eliminate the requirement that new developments pay for the cost of installing water infrastructure
    • Remove Planning Commission review of single family annexations and neighborhood notifications for land divisions
  • The City Administrator is directed to consider hiring a consultant to implement these changes.
  • Policy changes will be communicated to Council by December 2025.

APPROVED: By resolution, Council directs the City Administrator to to alleviate undue burden on land developments by addressing “City inefficiencies” with procedural changes and ordinance amendments. (Legistar)

  • Proposed changes include:
    • Create and define terms in the Unified Development Code: “Fully Electrified Development” and “Energy Efficient Development.” These categories of development will be fast-tracked for approval and no longer reviewed at public meetings of the City Planning Commission.
    • Eliminate a requirement to measure “traditional level of service” in terms of transportation; instead, proposed new development will be assessed and scored on “multi-modal value”
    • Lobby for State law changes so that the City can offer more tax abatements to private development that is electrified or carbon neutral.
  • The City Administrator is directed to consider hiring a consultant to implement these changes.
  • Policy changes will be communicated to Council by December 2025.

APPROVED: By resolution, Council directs the City Administrator to preserve tax base by pursuing property acquisition and disposition of property for development. A fund or funding strategy will be established specifically for this purpose. Additionally, a sub-quorum of Council will meet to discuss a charter amendment that would lift the requirement for an 8-vote supermajority vote on the sale, purchase, or leasing of City property. (Legistar)

  • The City Administrator is directed to consider hiring a consultant to implement these changes.
  • Policy changes will be completed and communicated to Council by June 2025.

APPROVED: The City will accept and appropriate a $658,532.54 Hazard Mitigation Grant from FEMA with local matching funds of $73,170.28 in order to purchase and demolish homes at 124 Felch St. & 112 E. Summit (total cost: $731,702.82). These homes are in the floodway and the owners requested a City application to FEMA in order to fund this purchase. The properties will be used to facilitate access to the Treeline Urban Trail. (Legistar)

APPROVED (first reading): A parcel of 1.06 acres at 711 Church St would be rezoned to Planned Unit Development (PUD). Six lots would be combined and rezoned to allow the building of a high-rise building (17 stories) with 273 apartments and storage for 498 bicycles. It is currently zoned R4C and the proposed PUD requests a dwelling unit density ten times greater than what is permitted in R4C in exchange for providing 17% affordable units or payment in lieu. (Legistar)

  • The developers held a citizen participation meeting about this project in May 2023: https://a2council.com/711-church-street-citizen-participation-meeting-may-17-2023/
  • In a split vote, the Planning Commission recommended denial of the project in February 2024: https://a2council.com/ann-arbor-city-planning-commission-february-6-2024/
  • The Planning staff report (link) explains that the terms requested by the developer most closely conform to (but actually exceed) D1/D2 zoning. From the staff report: “The applicant has failed to offer sufficient justification as to why an area that is currently outside of the downtown core and zoned R4C should skip over the downtown interface zone (D2) and exceed the downtown core (D1) established parameters managing height and setbacks.”
  • In the same report, Planning staff recommended denial because: “The proposal fails to meet the standards of approval for beneficial effects and does not provide unique benefits which could not be achieved through other zoning classifications. Additionally, inadequate justification is given for inconsistency with the Comprehensive Plan.”
  • Council unanimously approved five amendments to the PUD supplemental regulations:
    • Lowering the standard for LEED certification
    • Eliminating specification of materials
    • Clarifying allowable height to permit a double story
    • Adding geothermal technology for a “modest proportion of the buildings energy use” (8%)
    • Reducing the developer’s obligation to fund public art. The contribution will be $50,000 rather than a percentage of project cost (as is required by ordinance)
  • https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2024/04/17-story-high-rise-outside-downtown-ann-arbor-gets-councils-initial-ok.html

APPROVED (first reading): Ordinance amendments will change the criteria for assessing the impact of new developments, removing a requirement to provide traffic studies and substituting a “multimodal transportation impact assessment” that includes transit, pedestrian, and bicycle. (Legistar)

  • A version of these amendments were originally proposed by the City’s Transportation department. In December 2023, the City’s Planning Staff issued a memo reviewing them (link).
  • From that memo: “Planning staff find the conceptual amendments inadequate to address how multimodal transportation impact analyses should be reviewed…neither the current nor the proposed criteria for review offer meaningful measures to assess a MTIA. Ideally, the review criteria should outline how to determine the effects of a proposed development on the transportation system, along with requesting and evaluating adequacy of mitigation measures.”
  • Also from that memo: “The standard could be formatted similarly to the current standard for disturbance to natural features, and might read as follows: The Development shall maintain or improve the safety of the transportation system and maintain or reduce vehicle miles traveled, applying the criteria for reviewing a multimodal transportation impact analysis as provided in Section __.”
  • This week’s amendments include this language: “Site plans that propose to generate more than three trips per unit per peak hour or 50 trips per peak hour shall provide a multimodal transportation impact analysis following the methodology of the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ Multimodal Transportation Impact Analyses for Site Development, or the latest revision thereof”
  • This week’s amendments also includes this language: “Area plans that propose to generate more than three trips per unit per peak hour or 50 trips per peak hour shall provide information on trip generation, trip distribution, modal split, and areas of impact so the magnitude of the rezoning or proposed development can be understood.”
  • More information about the new methodology can be found here: https://ecommerce.ite.org/imis/ItemDetail?iProductCode=RP-020G-E&Category=PUB&WebsiteKey=d5326f96-5db7-43ca-89dc-c6ef0daae20e
  • The ordinance will amend the term “traffic study” to “transportation studies.”

A2ELNEL Voting Chart

Ann Arbor City Council Voting Chart for April 1, 2024 Part 1
Ann Arbor City Council Voting Chart for April 1, 2024 Part 2
Ann Arbor City Council Voting Chart for April 1, 2024 Part 3

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