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Dharma's Council Newsletter, June 16, 2024

Neighbors,

 

City Council meets on Tuesday, June 18th at 7pm. In observance of the Juneteenth Holiday, City offices are closed on Wednesday, June 19th. Curbside trash, recycling and compost collection services, however, will occur on their normal schedule without delays.

 

As you have probably heard, our area is under and extreme heat advisory for the upcoming week. Hot weather safety tips include: drink plenty of water, don't leave pets and children unattended in cars, check on family and friends that don't have air conditioning, and go to a designated cooling site if your home loses power during periods of extreme heat. As a reminder, we have a number of cooling sites around the City and County.


Here are some additional updates before my preview of our agenda.


Ward 4 Coffee Hour, June 23

I'm hosting my next monthly Ward 4 constituent coffee hour Sunday, June 23 from 11-noon at York Food and Drink (1929 Packard). RSVP or just swing by!


Ann Arbor Earns AAA Credit Rating Upgrade

​S&P Global Ratings has upgraded the City of Ann Arbor's credit rating from “AA+" to “AAA," the highest rating a municipality can be assigned. S&P cited the city's very strong management, trend of robust operating performance, resilient economy, and strengthened financial position as reasons for the rating upgrade. This makes Ann Arbor one of only nine Michigan cities that hold the prestigious “AAA" rating; Ann Arbor is also the most populous of the AAA-rated Michigan cities. You can read S&P Global's press release as well as the City's press release to learn more.


Policing with Our Community Workshop, June 22

Ann Arbor Police is partnering with an organization called Policing With Our Community to host a policing workshop for community members on June 22. From the AAPD: "This workshop is designed to empower community members and stakeholders with the knowledge and skills necessary to actively contribute to building safer and more just communities, integrating the principles of the 21st Century Policing Task Force and the pillars of procedural justice." You must register in advance at: https://tinyurl.com/292mwurk.









City Council Meeting, Tuesday, June 18 at 7pm


Agenda Highlights

  • Resolution to Approve the Housing and Human Services Advisory Board Recommendations to Amend the Ann Arbor Affordable Housing Fund Policy (CA-5). The resolution is to approve amendments to the Ann Arbor Affordable Housing Fund (AAAHF) policy, as recommended by the Housing and Human Services Advisory Board (HHSAB). The AAAHF was established in 1989 to create and retain long-term affordable housing for low-income households. The motivation for policy amendments as stated in the resolution is to modernize language, clarify purpose and use of funds, and create an efficient, transparent application process. If the changes are approved, eligible uses for the AAAHF will include acquisition, demolition, new construction, renovation, and related infrastructure. Non-profits can request funds for pre-development and technical assistance. Rental assistance and operations would be removed as eligible uses, as other funding sources exist for these, and services are not added as a new eligible use.

  • Southtown Rezoning Amendment to Conditional Zoning Statement of Conditions (C-1). Approval of this ordinance will amend the zoning designation of the block bounded by South State Street on the west, Henry Street on the north, White Street on the east, and Stimson Street on the south, by changing the one of the adopted and incorporated conditions. Council approved the development in 2023 as C1A/R with the following conditions: a maximum height limit; a maximum vehicle parking space limit; a use limitation; and a limitation on natural gas connections. This change would leave all the same except it would change from a limitation on natural gas connections to a requirement to operate a "carbon-efficient continuous electricity microgrid." Originally the Southtown project intended to use DTE Electricity as the sole utility provider for the building, using DTE Gas service to only power its on-site emergency back-up internal combustion generators to maintain electricity when the DTE Electricity grid was down. The Southtown project now seeks to operate an on-site fuel cell to generate its own electricity. Fuel sources for the fuel cell include renewable natural DTE Gas (RNG). Environmentalists have raised concerns with RNG, and you can read more about this issue in Michigan at Planet Detroit: "Is 'Renewable Natural Gas' a Real Option to Power Michigan?" The article echos some of what we learned in a recent Environmental Commission presentation: most of the RNG is captured from manure at concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). CAFOs are a huge threat to water and air, and their proliferation is being driven--in part--by RNG demand. CAFOs themselves also emit greenhouse gases. As a result, some argue that producing RNG from CAFOs allows the industry to continue unsustainable practices under the guise of "renewable energy." For these reasons, I'm apprehensive about this change, though I'm interested in the developer's plan to potentially use hydrogen as a fuel source in the future. As well, I think this development is a worthwhile one. Unfortunately, there appears to be no evaluation from the Office of Sustainability and Innovation about the proposed change. I intend to follow up on this in our meeting Tuesday.

  • Resolution to Study a Reparations Program (DC-4). This resolution seeks to explore establishing municipal reparations for its Black citizens to remediate historical injustices and discrimination flowing from the practice of slavery in the United States. If passed it would: 

    • Direct the City Administrator to identify a funding source for a study regarding the feasibility and process of creating a Municipal Reparations Program to remediate the historical injustices and discrimination against Black residents of Ann Arbor;

    • Directs the City Administrator to ensure that the study is conducted and to provide a report regarding the feasibility, process and structure of a potential Municipal Reparations program; 

    • Provide a harms impact report to Council no later than December of 2024 regarding the harms to be addressed by the potential Municipal Reparations Program. (Sponsors: Harrison, Watson, Ghazi Edwin, Disch, and Eyer)


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:

  • eComment

  • 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.

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