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Dharma's Council Newsletter, January 21st, 2024

Neighbors,

 

City Council meets on Monday, January 22nd. Before I get to a preview of our agenda, here are some updates.


Coffee Hour

I will be hosting my monthly Ward 4 constituent coffee hour, Sunday, January 28th from 10-11am at York Food and Drink (1929 Packard). RSVP or just swing by!


Take the Community Survey on the City's Comprehensive Plan

The City is working on updating its Comprehensive Plan, which will establish a vision and priorities for areas such as future land uses across the city; desired policy changes; and public spending and capital projects. Community members are invited to participate in an online survey as the City of Ann Arbor begins the update process for its Comprehensive Plan. To take the survey, visit: http://tinyurl.com/y2k238ze


Information Session on Jan. 29th for Potential Sports Illustrated Conference Center

On Monday, January 29th, the City will hold an information session at 7pm in Council chambers. It will also air on CTN and can be joined via Zoom (https://a2gov.zoom.us/j/95688400001?pwd=YmpRbnNCRDMzYVRtdi84YStZbmlyQT09 Passcode: 338114). Learn more.


I have received a number of emails about this project, which began with an unsolicited proposal for development of a Sports Illustrated branded conference center on the Kline lot. The City does not have a policy in place for dealing with unsolicited proposals. I have read some things online that suggest that--because staff have been working with the SI development team to develop a set of terms for a proposal--that a decision has been made and the project is moving forward absent a public process, so let me state clearly that this would absolutely not move forward without a Council deliberation and vote at a public meeting. Furthermore, it would require a supermajority of 8 votes. Administrator Dohoney and staff have been working with the development team and downtown stakeholders to develop a proposed set of terms they think would be beneficial to the City and for Council to consider. I do not have an issue with that process, and wanted to wait to see the terms of a proposal before forming a conclusion.


I support development of this surface parking lot in our downtown and appreciate our City Administrator's economic development expertise and that he's looking for opportunities to draw people to our downtown (good for the entire downtown business ecosystem), shore up our City's budget, and meet a long-standing need for large event space in our city. However, I do not think a Sports Illustrated themed convention center hits the mark. I don't see a proven track record for the SI themed conference center, nor do I think their themed concept is a good fit for Ann Arbor and adding to a sense of place downtown. I do not support this project and would vote against it.


City Council Meeting, Monday, January 22nd at 7pm


Agenda Highlights

  • Response to R-23-192 - Resolution Directing City Administrator to Identify Incentives that Would Support Voluntary Efforts to Increase Emissions Reductions (AC-2). This is a memo, rather than an item for consideration in this meeting. Last year, in response to concerns that many development proposals continue to use natural gas for heating, rather than transitioning to primarily electric, my colleagues and I asked City staff to propose incentives that "would support voluntary efforts by residents and businesses to increase emissions reductions through a transition to sustainable and clean heating as well as beneficial electrification." The recommendations include offering--for development proposals that meet an as-yet-to-be defined sustainable development standard--height bonuses, exemption from citizen review processes, enabling site plan approval by the Planning Manager, and waiving site plan review and related entitlement fees (e.g. wetland use permit, Special Exception Use Permit, Transportation Impact Analysis review fees, etc.). I look forward to considering these recommendations and hearing what you think of them.

  • Resolution to Approve the 121 Catherine Street Development Agreement (CA-7). This resolution will approve a Development Agreement between the City of Ann Arbor and Ann Arbor Housing Development Corporation, the developer of a site planned project to construct a six-story affordable housing building at the northwest corner of North Fourth Avenue and Catherine Street. The 52,414-square foot building will contain 63 dwelling units on upper floors. The ground floor will have some retail space as well as support services for tenants. All apartments will be affordable to lower income households, managed and supported by Avalon Housing. The development also includes 18 public parking spaces with access from North Fourth Avenue and the rear alley.

  • Iron Water Service Replacement (CA-8). This is to approve a construction contract with All Seasons Underground Construction Inc and D'Angelo Bros., Inc. for galvanized water service line replacements. Most water service lines installed in Ann Arbor before 1928 and some services installed during World War II (1942-1945) were made of galvanized iron and connected to the water main with a short piece of flexible lead pipe, known as a “gooseneck”. The City has removed and replaced the publicly owned portion of all known galvanized water service lines and lead goosenecks. In June of 2018, an updated Lead and Copper Rule was adopted by the State of Michigan. The rule requires that water suppliers replace both the publicly owned and privately owned portions of galvanized service lines that are or were connected to lead. Water suppliers must replace these lines at a rate of 5% per year.

  • Ordinance to Rezone 54 Parcels to TC1 in Plymouth Rd Area (PH-1). The TC1 district was added as a new zoning district to the Unified Development Code by approval of Ordinance ORD-21-19 on July 6, 2021 as a meaningful and achievable way to simultaneously address many different but related goals expressed in the eight documents that comprise the Comprehensive Plan, such as sustainability, access and choice in housing, housing affordability, reducing vehicle miles traveled, relieving vehicle congestion, supporting existing transit service, and supporting and expanding non-motorized transportation. The proposed rezoning includes 53 unique parcels and 107 unique addresses from 50 individual lots and 3 condominiums. It covers 197 acres in total. This comes to us with unanimous Planning Commission support and staff recommendation. I very much look forward to voting in support of this. (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).

  • Unified Development Code Amendment (Personal Scale Solar) (PH-3) Amendments are proposed to facilitate installing a personal scale solar energy system as an accessory structure in single-family and two-family residential districts. Currently, solar panels are prohibited in front yards, meaning anywhere in front of a building even if behind the Front Setback Line. The proposed amendments would provide greater flexibility by allowing solar in front yards, up to ten feet from the Lot Line, allowing unlimited coverage in the Rear Setback Area. This change is better aligned with our climate emergency and our A2Zero plan. (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 to Approve Hiring of Maura K. Thomson as Executive Director of DDA (DC-1) Since last year, when the Director of the DDA departed, Maura Thomson has served as interim director. In my time on Council, I've found Ms. Thomson to be an incredibly dedicated, responsive public servant, who has proven herself absolutely up to the task of leading the DDA, I'm happy to support this resolution.


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 January 11th, 2024 Council Voting chart.

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