Ann Arbor City Council: December 4, 2023

Dec 4, 2023 | 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.

CM Song was absent

A2Council Update Video

Ann Arbor City Council Meeting Summary

APPROVED: Amendments to the UDC rescind a policy of premiums to developers to incentivize the building of affordable housing units or payments to the affordable housing fund. The premiums apply to new developments downtown in the D1 and D2 zoning districts. (Legistar)

  • Prior to changes in 2019, premiums to developers more generally incentivized the building of residential units in D1 and D2 zoning districts (downtown). Changes made in 2019 were based on ten years of data starting in 2009 and can be found here: https://a2gov.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=4147361&GUID=CF65060C-858F-4C8B-A0A7-BC2294D1E926&Options=&Search=&FullText=1
  • A staff memo explains: “Because of these changes, some downtown buildings (those that previously used premiums) will no longer achieve a minimum of two particular LEED points. There is also expected to be fewer buildings with on-site affordable housing units or providing payments in lieu.” Consultants hired to analyze these amendments explain: “The proposed amendments will make it easier for petitioners to reach maximum height, since they would no longer need to navigate the premiums process.”
  • In answer to agenda questions (link), consultants clarified how their report was largely based on the preference and perspective of developers: “We did not research resulting construction patterns in other cities and could not say that best practices in cities without premiums saw greater housing development in their downtowns … we could not prove a direct corollary but had heard from multiple developers that the challenge of incorporating affordable units within development was too steep. [we] agree that COVID and rising construction costs impacted that time frame
  • When these amendments were considered (and approved) by Mayoral appointees on the Planning Commission in September 2023, 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. Commissioner Lisa Sauve was recused 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, which also actively participated in the recently approved rezoning for Southtown. https://a2council.com/ann-arbor-city-planning-commission-september-19-2023/
  • https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2023/11/ann-arbor-scrapping-downtown-affordable-housing-incentives-says-theyre-not-working.html
  • https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2023/12/ann-arbor-gives-10-0-final-ok-to-downtown-zoning-changes.html

APPROVED: Amendments to the UDC will establish a minimum front setback in the TC-1 zoning district of 18 feet, as measured from the street curb; the amendment includes a maximum setback of 28 feet. (Legistar)

APPROVED: Rezoning and Site Plan at 900 Briarwood Circle. Part of the parking lot at Briarwood Mall is rezoned for a redevelopment of the former Sears department store. The site plan anticipates the demolition of the former Sears and construction of a four story residential building (354 units) with a two level grocery store, retail store, and adjacent athletic field. A four level parking garage will include 301 spaces. Eight foot sidewalks and five foot bike lanes (with painted buffer) will be added to the ring road of Briarwood Circle. (Legistar) (Legistar)

APPROVED: The PUD zoning and site plan for the Lockwood development (2195 E. Ellsworth) is amended to reflect how the building was built four feet too far into the east and south side setbacks. The requested amendment would reduce both of these setbacks by four feet, to match what has already been built: 144 feet reduced to 140 feet (east side) and 68 feet reduced to 64 feet (south side). To the south, this places the building four feet closer to Ellsworth. To the east, this places the building four feet closer to homes on Shadowood Drive. (Legistar)

APPROVED: $5,030,600 construction contract to replace the UV Disinfection System at the waste water treatment plant. (Legistar)

APPROVED: $493,969 contract for engineering services to support replacement of the UV Disinfection System at the Waste Water Treatment Plant. (Legistar)

APPROVED (First Reading): A revised leaf blower ordinance, postponed from the Council meeting on November 20, 2023. The ordinance will ban the use of gas-powered leaf blowers from June 1 to September 30. Use of all leaf blowers (gas and other) will be restricted with the goal of eventually banning gas-powered blowers entirely by 2028. Fines for violation of the ordinance will be not less than $100 for a first offense and $250 for subsequent offenses. (Legistar)

APPROVED: The City Administrator is directed to create and distribute educational materials about the new leaf blower ordinance to residents and businesses. He is further directed to launch a bulk buy program for electric lawn equipment. Moneys collected from violation of this ordinance will “support low-income residents and small businesses with transitioning to all-electric leaf blowers.” (Legistar)

A2ELNEL Voting Chart

Ann Arbor City Council Voting Chart for December 4, 2023 Part 1
Ann Arbor City Council Voting Chart for December 4, 2023 Part 2
Ann Arbor City Council Voting Chart for December 4, 2023 Part 3

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I write an Ann Arbor City Council newsletter with my summary of agenda items coming before Ann Arbor City Council, plus news and events of interest to Ann Arbor residents. I send my newsletter out the weekend before every Council meeting so that you can see what’s on the agenda and have an opportunity to reach out to City Council with any concerns.

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