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 Watson was absent
A2Council Update Video
Ann Arbor City Council Meeting Summary
APPROVED: Ten parcels with addresses on South State Street (1601, 1605, 1607, 1609, 1611), Henry Street (714), and White Street (1606, 1608, 1610, 1612) will be rezoned from R4C (Multiple Family Residential) to C1A/R (Campus Business Residential) in order to permit the construction of a development (“SouthTown by 4M”) that includes 216 dwelling units with a 54 space parking garage. (Legistar)
- Staff explains that the rezoning “increases the development of the block about three times over what is currently allowed.” The height limit for current zoning is 30 feet and the developer proposes zoning with the condition that height not exceed 100 feet. The maximum FAR (a calculation of permitted density) for C1A/R zoning is 300% and this development received a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals because it exceeds that maximum. Inclusive of the parking garage, the FAR for this development is 345%; excluding the parking garage, the FAR for this development is 308%.
- The block proposed for rezoning and redevelopment/gentrification currently contains 49 housing units on 1.7 acres. There is one single family home at 714 Henry Street and the other nine properties are multi-family housing containing three to thirteen units each. The current R4C zoning prohibits these units from being used as dedicated full-time short term rentals. The zoning change to C1AR will allow the new housing units to be used as short-term rentals, like the adjacent properties owned by the same developer.
- Read about the 66-bed short-term rental development on Henry Street (owned by the same developer): https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2019/02/group-living-with-co-working-space-for-young-professionals-coming-to-ann-arbor.html
APPROVED: A 20,861 square foot property at 3021-3023 Miller Road will be purchased for $2.9 million in order to house new facilities for CTN as well as an Election Center. CTN facilities are currently located at 2805 South Industrial Highway in a property that is leased from an LLC affiliated with Jeff Hauptman of Oxford Companies. Regarding the new property at 3021-3023 Miller Rd, a memo explains that months ago, Oxford Companies met with City staff to “determine design needs, mock-up a preliminary design sketch of the floor plan and render an estimated cost of construction.” Oxford Companies have been asked to provide “up-to-date service and life-span information” for all mechanical systems. (Legistar)
- On the Consent Agenda this week, Council approved allocations of $6.2 million that were transferred to the City’s general fund when the Ann Arbor Housing Commission “purchased” the City-owned property at 350 S. Fifth. Those allocations include explanation that some of the funds would be used to purchase this property. (Legistar)
- Funding for this purchase comes from $996,750 in ARPA allocations, $1,075,000 from general fund balance, and $828,250 in Affordable Housing Funds received from the Housing Commission (proceeds from the sale of 350 S. Fifth to the Housing Commission).
APPROVED: A new ordinance will require sellers of certain residential housing units to disclose a “Home Energy Audit” prior to sale. Requirements do not apply to multi-story/multi-family housing, accessory dwelling units, mobile homes, or commercial buildings. Sellers will provide a Home Energy Score Report completed by a Home Energy Assessor (certified by the US Department of Energy). Included in an audit will be estimates of annual and monthly energy use and cost by fuel type, as well as comparative Home energy scores for similar dwellings. These seller disclosure requirements may be waived at the “sole discretion” of the Director of the Sustainability and Innovations department (Dr. Missy Stults). (Legistar)
- At the 8/7/23 Council meeting, Council offered a substitute ordinance recommended by OSI staff with a few changes:
- “Listing Service” is now defined in the ordinance as the database tool used by realtors
- Home Energy Score must be disclosed in “at least one” rather than all Real Estate Listings
- Disclosure requirements that refer to “Real Estate Listing” and “Public Listing” no longer include a sign display
- Noncompliance is determined at time of sale
- Fines for noncompliance no longer compound daily
APPROVED: Amendments to the TC-1 zoning category address two potential uses: (Legistar)
- Automobiles, Motorcycles, Recreational Vehicles, Equipment (Sales and Rental)
- Automobile, Truck, Construction Equipment Repair
These amendments were in response to a City Council resolution (12/5/22 – Legistar) requesting that the Planning Commission “evaluate and recommend amendments to the TC1 Zoning District or Unified Development Code (UDC) that:
- Incorporate limited automobile-related uses into the TC1 District, excluding drive throughs and gas stations
- Address constraints of existing narrow rights of way”
- In a memo (4/18/23 – Legistar), City Staff explained that these amendments do not offer “an evaluation or recommendation to address the constraints of existing narrow rights-of-way, or propose an amendment to the maximum building height limits. These issues will require more time and resources than consideration of permitted uses.”
- In that memo, City staff recommended that these uses be permitted as a primary use: “Staff recommend approval of the proposed amendment to allow automobile, motorcycle, recreation vehicle, equipment (sales and rental) in the TC1 district.”
- They explained further: “Given the existing form-based development standards of the TC1 district, incorporating vehicle sales and rental and vehicle repair uses will have minimal long-term impacts. Newly established vehicle sales, rental and repair uses are required to be in buildings of at least two stories, with an active street-level use, and easy for transit and nonmotorized-transportation users to access. As with any business in TC1, auto-related businesses would only be allowed limited areas on site for outdoor storage of vehicle inventory, or vehicles waiting for repair or pick-up.”
- City Council did not consider this recommendation from City staff. Instead, Council approved the recommendation of five Mayoral appointees on the Planning Commission, who proposed that these categories be allowed only as “special exception use.” By City ordinance, all applications for a “special exception use” are ultimately accepted or rejected by the Mayoral appointees on the Planning Commission.
- The approval process for Special Exception Use is explained in the “Procedures Summary Table” in section 5.27 on page 170 of the “Unified Development Code Eighth Edition (February 26, 2023)” at this link: https://www.a2gov.org/departments/planning/Pages/Unified%20Development%20Code.aspx
- It is worth noting: six votes are required for the Planning Commission to act on plans, policy statements, granting of special exception uses, recommendations to City Council, and petitions. Due to three absences and one recusal, the 5-0 recommendation to approve these ordinance amendments was not actually approved by the Planning Commission. Minutes from the 4/18/23 Planning Commission meeting explain that “the motion as amended failed.” http://a2gov.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=12187547&GUID=C4CDE3BC-4F07-41D9-9DDC-F1ADBA46CD8A
APPROVED: An ordinance amendment will create a new class of “micro-business” under city regulation of Marijuana facilities. Currently, one category of micro-business is defined as a facility cultivating up to 150 plants and processing/packaging/selling them to individuals over the age of 21. The amendment will establish a second category of micro-business (“Class A”) that allows a facility to cultivate up to 300 plants, package marijuana, purchase marijuana concentrate or infused products from a processor, and sell them to individuals over the age of 21. The new Class A micro business will not be permitted to process marijuana. (Legistar)
- The amendment also includes an expansion of allowable hours of operation. Currently, marijuana facilities may not operate after 9 p.m. or before 7 a.m. The amendment will permit operation until to 12 a.m. (midnight).
- City staff response to agenda questions explains that “there has been interest among marijuana business owners to allow extended hours of operation.” Additional staff explanation refers to “discussions among Council Members.”
- “Factors that were considered include discussions among Council Members regarding the disparity between the closing hours of establishments in which liquor can be purchased or consumed (2:00 am) and marijuana dispensaries and consumption establishments (9:00 pm).”
- Staff explained further: “AAPD had concerns about a potential 2:00 am closing time because of the amount of cash kept at dispensaries. AAPD recommended allowing marijuana establishments to remain open until 12:00 am for a trial period to see if there might be an uptick in crime during the extended hours, and to allow a later closing time if there are no issues with the 12:00 am closing time.”
- Link to Council Agenda Response Memo (8/17/23): https://a2gov.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=12232317&GUID=DA3A6F00-BC22-48A1-A3A9-159A0C12B15F
APPROVED: By resolution, Council eliminates the requirement that traffic calming projects be approved by elected representatives. Moving forward, decisions will be delegated to the City Administrator and he is directed to develop a school traffic calming toolkit by December 31, 2024. A subset of mayoral appointees on the Transportation Commission (“Neighborhood Traffic Calming Committee”) will work with staff on updating and defining programs. (Legistar)
- This resolution was recommended by mayoral appointees on the Transportation Commission. At their 8/16/2023 meeting (Legistar), the Transportation Commission specifically discussed removing the requirement that over 50% of residents on a street agree to traffic calming strategies before it can move forward. Commissioners, including Council Liaison Dharma Akmon referred to this as a change “to a collaborative model of public engagement, instead of the current empowerment model.” This distinction and shift from past policy was not included in the resolution considered by Council and it was not mentioned in discussion. The resolution on the Council agenda mentioned only that the City Administrator would pursue a “collaborative” model for public engagement.
APPROVED: The City will vacate the street/public right of way that was never constructed at E. Moseley from the railroad tracks to S. Fifth Avenue. This location will be used by the University of Michigan for a future development. (Legistar)
APPROVED: The City Administrator is directed to pursue a State of Michigan historical marker ahead of plans to erect a statue at City Hall to honor Kathy Kozachenko, the first openly gay or lesbian candidate to be elected to public office in the U.S. Kathy Kozachenko was elected to Ann Arbor City Council in 1974 from the then active Human Rights Party. (Legistar)
- Kozachenko ran on a platform of putting “people over profits” – you can read more about that here: https://aadl.org/aa_news_19740124-meet_the_candidate
- The Michigan History Center has more information, and link to a 2020 Michigan Radio interview with Kathy Kozachenko: https://michiganology.org/stories/kathy-kozachenko-lgbtq-rights-in-michigan/
- The resolution explains that the City hopes to raise $100,000 toward the statue as part of a program from Statues for Equality. You can read about Statues for Equality here: https://statuesforequality.com/