Ann Arbor City Council: March 4, 2024

Mar 4, 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

APPROVED: The Early Leasing Ordinance – which includes a right to renew for current tenants – is amended to clarify timelines and prevent the offer of rental units that are eligible for lease renewal. (Legistar)

RECONSIDERED and APPROVED: A budget amendment for $796,050 will fund the four year lease of 104 gas-powered golf carts and two utility carts as well as the purchase of two replacement mowers for Huron Hills and Leslie Park Golf courses. (Legistar) (Legistar)

  • This agenda item was defeated at the February 20, 2024 Council meeting in a 7-4 vote after Council expressed concerns about the use of gas and the cost of GPS accessories. (There is an eight-vote requirement for approval of budget amendments.) It was brought back for reconsideration by CM Travis Radina, who previously voted against it. A member of Council who voted on the prevailing side may bring an agenda item back for reconsideration.
  • Ahead of the February 20th Council meeting, staff offered explanation: “This is a significant revenue generator for both courses. In FY2023 golf cart rentals resulted in approximately $398,000 in revenue.”
  • And: “In 2016 we went to bid for a cart storage facility at Leslie Park Golf Course with the necessary infrastructure to support electric golf carts. The lowest bid was $429,900.00 and at that time was deemed cost prohibitive. Because of this expense, a transition to electric carts within the next five years, though desired, probably is not feasible without new major funding or grants. Staff will work to expedite a transition toward an electric fleet of golf carts in the future.”
  • Ahead of the March 4th Council meeting, staff explained more: “The infrastructure necessary to support EV carts does not exist at either course.”
  • And: “Without golf carts, our golf course will require significant subsidy to continue operating. Without subsidy from an outside fund, we would recommend that the courses be closed until golf carts can be procured. There is no ability to pull funding from other projects or areas in Parks to cover the lost revenue because all funds are already programmed.”
  • By friendly amendment, language was added to the resolution approving the lease agreement, directing the City Administrator to provide “A comprehensive review of Parks Department capital needs to the Parks Advisory commission and the City Council, inclusive of a plan to transition the City’s golf cart fleet to electric no later than the end of this lease agreement.”
  • https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2024/02/gas-golf-carts-ann-arbor-council-members-say-no-to-parks-staffs-request.html
  • https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2024/03/should-ann-arbor-keep-its-city-golf-courses-officials-ponder-new-uses-for-land.html

APPROVED: New fees will be charged by the Ann Arbor Fire Department: $470.00 for basic life support transport (ambulance) and $225.00 for lift assist. These fees appeared on the 2/5/24 agenda and were postponed for further review by the Commission on Disabilities Issues (CODI). (Legistar) (Legistar)

  • The fee schedule for lift assist is different across defined categories of customers. For businesses and medical facilities (e.g. assisted living facility, group home, skilled nursing facility, etc.) the first lift assist service is free and subsequent calls incur a fee. As originally proposed, the fee schedule allowed the Fire Department to provide up to six lift assists over 12 months to private residences without charging a fee; fees would have applied to the seventh and all subsequent calls to private residences. At the 3/4 meeting, a substitute version was presented and approved, removing lift assist fees for calls to private residences.
  • The fee schedule for ambulance service contemplates various levels of insurance and for those lacking insurance, the fee is waived.

APPROVED (first reading): Ordinance amendments will change City policy around purchases and sales within the City’s “Greenbelt.” (Legistar)

  • In 2003, Ann Arbor voters approved an Open Space & Parkland Preservation millage to fund the purchase of conservation easements to preserve open space and prevent urban sprawl. This millage generates approximately $3.4 million annually. Of these funds, two thirds may be spent on the purchase of conservation easements outside the City limits and one third of these funds must be spent on the acquisition of parkland within the City of Ann Arbor. Since its inception, this millage has facilitated the purchase of over 7,600 acres for conservation. 
  • Proposed amendments to Greenbelt conservation policy would 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
  • The current cap on administrative spending (6%) would be lifted entirely. In questions to the agenda (link), Staff explain that in the past, administrative spending related to the Greenbelt program has been as high as 13.5% and could go higher.
  • The Open Space and Parkland Acquisition millage allows the City to purchase 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.
  • The current ordinance outlines a process for property owners to sell development rights to the City and also buy them back. A 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.
  • The proposed amendments contemplate the possible future purchase of development rights and introduce new terms for buy-back. Amendments will wholly remove requirements for GAC review, supermajority vote of Council, public referendum for larger parcels, and appraisal of fair market value. New proposed language regarding the terms for re-purchase of development rights: “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.”
  • In 2022, the City adopted a new policy of “Buy-Sell-Protect” which permits the division and sale of greenbelt properties to create multiple (smaller) farming opportunities. You can read about that policy here: https://a2gov.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=10527512&GUID=40648F9B-911B-4E6F-BBFC-C7C4E5EA0EEB
  • Current policy allows no more than 2% of impervious surface within a Conservation Easement. Proposed amendments allow this limit to be waived by the City Administrator on a case-by-case basis.

A2ELNEL Voting Chart

Ann Arbor City Council Voting Chart for March 4, 2024 Part 1
Ann Arbor City Council Voting Chart for March 4, 2024 Part 2
Ann Arbor City Council Voting Chart for March 4, 2024 Part 3

Subscribe To My Newsletter

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.

The weekend after Council meetings, I send an "A2Council Update" newsletter with my voting charts and highlights of how issues were decided.