Ann Arbor City Council: January 22, 2024

Jan 22, 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.

CM Akmon was absent
CM Harrison was absent

A2Council Update Video

Ann Arbor City Council Meeting Summary

APPROVED: Forty-five (45) parcels at Plymouth Road (127 acres) are rezoned to Transit Corridor district (TC-1), consistent with staff recommendation. On November 1, 2023, Mayoral appointees on the Planning Commission amended the zoning district to add eight parcels (70 acres). By friendly amendment, City Council removed those additional 70 acres from the zoning district, due to a failure to provide proper notice. (Legistar)

APPROVED: An ordinance amendment explicitly permits placement of ground-mounted solar panel arrays in front yards and removes the maximum rear setback lot coverage requirements (35%) that currently applies to all accessory structures. (Legistar)

  • Previously, solar arrays were considered an accessory structure subject to this term in the Uniform Development Code: 5.16.6.A.2.d: Accessory Buildings may occupy Rear Setback Areas provided that such Buildings do not occupy more than 35% of the required Rear Setback Area and are not closer than three feet to any Lot Line.
  • This amendment permits the placement of personal scale solar arrays up to ten feet from the Lot Line, and allow unlimited coverage in the Rear Setback Area.
  • https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2024/01/ann-arbor-lifts-ban-on-solar-panels-in-front-yards.html

APPROVED: Amendments to the City’s non-discrimination ordinance will prohibit city contractors from inquiring into a job applicant’s criminal history until after a conditional offer of employment has been made. This applies only to the employees used to fulfill a City contract. It does not apply to hiring practices for employees who produce of provide goods and/or services unrelated to a City contract. Employment may be contingent on a criminal background check and the City may still conduct background checks for positions where there is a statutory duty to do so. Contractors will also be required to document efforts to employ local people. (Legistar)

APPROVED: Amendments to the Uniform Development Code adds “Banquet Hall” as a permitted use in all mixed-use zoning districts. Additional amendments expand permitted uses in the Office (O) zoning district: all types of personal services, fraternity/sorority, student cooperative housing, club headquarters, community center, religious assembly, private [K-12] schools, indoor recreation as primary uses (rather than special exception), trade/industrial schools as primary uses. The amendment also separates kennels/animal boarding from veterinarian offices in the permitted use table. (Legistar)

  • This amendment was considered by the Planning Commission on June 6, 2023. https://a2council.com/ann-arbor-city-planning-commission-june-6-2023/
  • These amendments were requested by Oxford Properties (CEO is campaign donor Jeff Hauptman). When this issue was discussed at the City Planning Commission, then commissioner (and current chair of the Planning Commission) Wonwoo Lee had to recuse himself, due to his employment as Chief Real Estate Officer for Oxford Companies.
  • As stated in Legistar for this Council meeting: “Six of the nine members of the City Planning Commission were present at its June 6, 2023 meeting. One member recused himself on this agenda item, leaving five members to discuss and vote on the proposed amendments. Although all five of the remaining members voted to approve the motion, the motion failed to earn the requisite six affirmative votes in order to pass.”

APPROVED: A development agreement for the property at 121 Catherine Street is approved to construct a six story development with 63 units of affordable housing and 18 parking places. (Legistar)

APPROVED: A splash pad and playground equipment will be purchased for $757,664.29 to be installed at the former Southeast Park, recently renamed Bicentennial Park. (Legistar)

APPROVED: Maura K. Thomson will be hired as the new executive director of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA). She will be the third director of the DDA since 2020. (Legistar)

APPROVED: The City of Lubny, Ukraine will be recognized as a sister city to the City of Ann Arbor, with plans to “collaborate and share expertise in the areas of waste management, emergency management, and development strategy.” (Legistar‘)

APPROVED (first reading): An amendment to the Unified Development Code will remove the requirement for a “conflicting land use buffer” (CLUB) between zoning districts. The UDC prescribes this buffer to be 15 feet of landscaping and “continuous screening” at least four feet high. The requirement has proven to be impractical in situations where two residential zoning districts meet and, for instance, might share a driveway. City staff further explain that the CLUB is an obstacle to “Planning efforts to increase mixed-use developments, increase density, and improve pedestrian friendliness in mixed-use zoning districts.” As amended, the CLUB requirement will not apply in situations where townhomes or multi-family (R3 and R4) abut other residential uses. After amendments, the CLUB will apply where Office (O), Research (RE), Office/Research/Limited Industrial (ORL), Commercial (C) or Industrial (M) parcels abut a public park or parcels zoned for residential purposes. Further amendments will combine and re-order CLUB requirements for vehicular use areas and solid waste/recycling containers. (Legistar)

A2ELNEL Voting Chart

Ann Arbor City Council Voting Chart for January 22, 2024 Part 1
Ann Arbor City Council Voting Chart for January 22, 2024 Part 2

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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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