Ann Arbor City Council: March 18, 2024

Mar 18, 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.

A2Council Update Video

Ann Arbor City Council Meeting Summary

SUBSTITUTED & APPROVED (Reset back to First Reading): Ordinance amendments will change City policy around purchases and sales within the City’s “Greenbelt.” One set of amendments were approved at first reading on March 4, 2024; this week, they were subject to a public hearing and final approval at second reading. However, City staff proposed an alternative version which was adopted. The substitute ordinance was approved, which reset it back to “first reading”. Another public hearing and “second reading” will be scheduled for a future Council meeting. (Legistar)

  • Amendments to Greenbelt conservation policy will 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:
  • Amendments will 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.
  • The original ordinance outlines a process for property owners to sell development rights to the City and also buy them back, after fifty years have elapsed. Any request to “repurchase” development rights from the City is first considered by the Greenbelt Advisory Commission and, if approved by the GAC, must be approved by a supermajority of Council (9 votes). For parcels larger than 100 acres a “repurchase” of development rights requires a public referendum. Current policy also requires appraisal and assessment of fair market value of these development rights before they can be sold back to a property owner. The City does not currently own any development rights that would be subject to these provisions.
  • As originally approved at first reading on March 4, 2024, ordinance amendments deleted virtually all of that process for the possible future purchase of development rights, eliminating the timeline restriction and removing requirements for GAC review, supermajority vote of Council, public referendum for larger parcels, and appraisal of fair market value.
  • At the first reading of March 4, 2024, Council unanimously approved terms for re-purchase of development rights that would have granted Council “sole discretion” regarding both price and subsequent use of proceeds: “City Council shall have the sole discretion whether to act on the request. If City Council determines to pursue a repurchase of Development Rights, City Council shall have the sole discretion to negotiate all terms of the repurchase, including price and conditions. City Council shall have the sole discretion to determine how to use the proceeds from any repurchase of Development Rights.”
  • At the March 18, 2024 meeting, alternative language was adopted, eliminating 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”
  • Alternative language also clarified that in exchanging land rights back and forth, any prior City investment will be restored as millage funds, rather than used at the “sole 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.”

APPROVED: Notice of Intent will be published in order to issue Capital Improvement Bonds to fund the development of affordable housing at 121 Catherine Street. Up to $9 million in bonds may be issued to fund the construction of a 64,529 square foot L-shaped building with 63 affordable housing units and 18 public parking spaces with access from North Fourth Avenue and the rear alley. All housing units will be affordable to households with incomes at or below 60% Area Median Income (AMI); half of the units will be supportive housing, affordable to those with income at or below 30% AMI. The Affordable Housing Millage will fund repayment of these bonds. (Legistar)

APPROVED: The City’s housing commission will pay $44,000 for a portion of the City-owned property at 721 N. Main. Most of the 5.26 acre parcel at 721 N. Main is not an appropriate location for housing, due to floodway and floodplain conditions. The property has been divided so that a 0.33 acre portion at the northwest corner (123 W. Summit) can be developed. The whole (undivided) parcel was appraised in 2019 at a value of $2,430,000. The City will receive $44,000 from the Housing Commission in exchange for the property. In response to questions to the agenda this week (link), staff explained that the property is a “Fleet Service Asset” and money must be transferred from the Housing commission in order to “avoid a loss to the Fleet Services Fund.” (Legistar)

APPROVED: The City Administrator will implement anonymous hiring practices. In considering applicants for city jobs, recruitment and hiring staff would no longer see information such as legal, prior, and preferred names, prefix, suffix, personal email addresses, and home addresses. By friendly amendment, photos were added to this list. The City administrator is further directed to partner with Michigan Works!, parole boards, Supportive Connections, colleges, Neutral Zone and other agencies to diversify the City’s workforce. (Legistar)

APPROVED: A $333,000 contract will purchase a mobile nano grid and three-year preventative maintenance contract for a solar array, battery storage, inverter, and fuel cell as part of a stationary source of backup power. The mobile nano grid will be evaluated as a possible emergency generator for the Fire Department at Station 3 (Veterans Park). It sits on a trailer and the department of Sustainability and Innovations plans to use it for “community engagement” at block parties and OSI events. It will be wrapped with logos for A2 Zero and the Ann Arbor Fire Department. (Legistar)

A2ELNEL Voting Chart

Ann Arbor City Council Voting Chart for March 18, 2024 Part 1
Ann Arbor City Council Voting Chart for March 18, 2024 Part 2

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