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Dharma's Council Newsletter for March 16th, 2024

Neighbors,

 

City Council meets on Monday, March 16th at 7pm. Here are some updates before my preview of our agenda.


Coffee Hour

I'm hosting my next monthly Ward 4 constituent coffee hour tomorrow, Sunday, March 17th from 10-11am at York Food and Drink (1929 Packard). RSVP or just swing by!


Home Energy Rating Disclosure Ordinance Now in Effect

Ann Arbor's new Home Energy Rating Disclosure (HERD) ordinance went into effect on March 12th. The ordinance requires the seller of an existing single family detached or “side-by-side" townhome within Ann Arbor city limits to disclose a Home Energy Score (HES) (developed by the Department of Energy), outlining information on that home’s projected annual energy costs to all potential buyers. Passed by Council in September 2023, the intent of this disclosure is to provide customer protection by informing buyers of their potential energy costs and raise awareness of how energy costs, energy use, and carbon emissions are connected.

 

Residents planning to list their home can visit osi.a2gov.org/herd to register for a free HES assessment, or send an email directly to herdinfo@a2gov.org. The HES assessment takes between 45 and 90 minutes to complete, and reports containing the seller’s HES will be delivered within three business days. Sellers also have the option of hiring a certified HES assessor to deliver this service. Learn more: https://tinyurl.com/ye2k8k4s


City Council Meeting, Monday, March 18th at 7pm


Agenda Highlights

  • Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Update (INT-1). Council will get an update from the DDA. A presentation included ahead of time tracks post-pandemic activity in the downtown. Highlights include that visits to the downtown have bounced back, though the patterns has shifted from employee visits to resident visits; and People Friendly Streets projects have seen an increase in visits since their redesign.

  • Resolution to Sell 123 W. Summit (formerly part of 721 N. Main) to the Ann Arbor Housing Development Corporation (CA-8). The Ann Arbor Housing Commission (AAHC) is requesting City Council approval to sell 123 W. Summit (formerly part of 721 N. Main) to the Ann Arbor Housing Development Corporation (AAHDC) for $44,000.00. AAHC staff worked with the SmithGroup to conduct community engagement for 123 W. Summit. The team presented three different affordable housing scenarios and all scenarios received over 60% community support. The 721 N. Main parcel currently has an asset value of $44,000.00 in the City’s fixed asset system. To avoid a loss at sale, the sale price of $44,000.00 is recommended (see staff memo for their response to my question about this.) The deed will include a restriction that ensures that the housing that is built will be permanently affordable to households whose income is 60% of the Area Median Income or less.

  • Ordinance to Amend Chapter 42 (Open Space and Parkland Preservation) of Title III of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (PH-1). Also known as the Greenbelt Program, the open space and parkland preservation program was adopted in 2004 to permanently conserve open space, natural habitats, and parkland. This piece of legislation is hugely consequential to development in our region, mitigating sprawl, which is costly from both an environment as well and an infrastructure perspective. As the "Michigan’s Path to a Prosperous Future: Infrastructure, Environment, Climate" report notes, "Many of Michigan’s infrastructure funding problems relate to the state’s embrace of suburban ‘sprawl’ style development in an era of marginal population growth. Michigan’s public policies have long encouraged and subsidized low-density greenfield developments. This dynamic results in each Michigander being called on to fund an ever-increasing amount of infrastructure. Michigan should encourage future development patterns that consider the life-cycle costs of infrastructure necessary to support new development." Building on what we have learned in the 20 years of implementation, staff is asking for revisions to expand the Greenbelt's boundaries to cover Ypsilanti Township and establish a source water protection overlay; lift a 6% administrative funding cap; give staff discretion in waiving the requirement that the total impervious surface area for new and existing buildings and roads on a parcel be not more than 2%; and to shift development of scoring criteria to the Greenbelt Advisory Commission. In response to several questions council members had regarding revisions concerning selling and repurchasing greenbelt land, staff is recommending that Council introduce a substitute ordinance "clarifying that if any interest in land purchased with OSPP millage funds is sold, those funds are to be used for OSPP millage purposes; and to Section 3:73, stating that Purchase of Development Rights agreements shall not contain repurchase provisions." (NOTE: because this is the second reading of this ordinance change, there will be a public hearing where residents can provide comments without signing up in advance).

  • Resolution in Support of TheRide's Proposal to Explore Alternative Options on the US-23 Corridor Project (DC-1). MDOT is studying widening US23 in Ann Arbor (see note above on sprawl), and residents, Ann Arbor City Council, and TheRide are all calling on MDOT to address transportation needs with more effective and sustainable means than adding a vehicle lane. Late last year City Council passed Resolution R-23-386, calling on MDOT to implement a design for the US23 project that does not include adding lanes or other actions that will increase private vehicle traffic volume in the project area and to define the project scope and budget so as to be sufficient to address all mobility needs, including walking, biking, and transit connections across US-23. This new resolution affirms Council's support for TheRide's proposal to "divert cars away from parts of US-23, replacing them with a small number of highway coaches which would reduce pressure on the highway enough that widening US-23 would not be necessary." This is in keeping with TheRide's approved long-term plan to divert ~8,000 cars/day away from the US-23 corridor and local streets like Plymouth Rd. and Washtenaw Ave. through the use of Park & Rides. (Sponsors: Briggs, Akmon)

  • General Obligation Capital Improvement Bonds to Fund 121 Catherine Affordable Housing Project (not to exceed $9,000,000) (DS-1). Last June, City Council directed the City Administrator to evaluate bonding our affordable housing Millage Revenue in order to increase the pace at which we build affordable housing with the millage dollars. City Council received that evaluation in December, which stated that each project needed to be evaluated separately for bonding. The resolution before us Monday night would approve the publication of a Notice of Intent to Issue Capital Improvement Bonds in the maximum principal amount of $9,000,000 for the purpose of financing the costs to develop affordable housing at 121 Catherine Street, which will break ground soon.


Please reach out if you have questions, concerns, or thoughts on any of the agenda items. Email: DAkmon@A2gov.org | Phone/text: 734-492-5866

 

You can also communicate your thoughts via:

  • Email City Council: CityCouncil@a2gov.org

  • Comment at the meeting (remote or in person): Call the City Clerk's office at 734-794-6140 beginning at 8 a.m. on the day of the meeting to reserve a public speaking time. NOTE: you do not need to reserve time to speak during a "public hearing (PH)" item.


How Council Voted

The Ann Arbor Voting Charts Project is a community-maintained record of voting history for City Council. Check out the March 4th, 2024 Council Voting chart.

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