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Dharma's Council Newsletter, March 2nd, 2024

Neighbors,

 

City Council meets on Monday, March 4th 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 Sunday, March 17th from 10-11am at York Food and Drink (1929 Packard). RSVP or just swing by!


City Council Work Session, Monday, March 11th at 7pm

City Council has a work session on March 11th, and the focus is the City's fiscal year 2025 budget. This meeting will be held in Council chambers and viewable on Zoom. 

 

Downtown Planning Workshops

The City is hosting a series of downtown planning workshops March 12th, 13th, and 14th where you can learn and share your feedback. Three specific plans will be the focus: the comprehensive plan, the DDA Development and TIF (Tax Increment Financing) plan, and the downtown area circulation plan. These will be held at the Downtown Ann Arbor District Library. Light refreshments will be provided. To help plan, RSVP is encouraged but not required.


Unarmed Response Request for Proposals Reissued

As I wrote about in a prior newsletter, the City announced on December 27th that it was cancelling the Request for Proposals (RFP) for a new Unarmed Response program and would be reissuing a new one in the spring. In response, City Council passed a resolution in early January "reaffirming the commitment to establish an unarmed response program in the City of Ann Arbor" that directed the City Administrator to release a new RFP no later than close of business on March 1, 2024. The new RFP for Unarmed Response Implementation was released on February 29th. Responses are due by April 18th.


 

City Council Meeting, Monday, March 4th at 7pm


Agenda Highlights

  • Michigan DNR Grant for Buhr Park Ice Arena (CA-4). This resolution authorizes a grant application to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Grants Management for accessibility and sustainability improvements to the Buhr Park Ice Arena and commits $500,000.00 in local matching funds if the grant is awarded. We have applied for this before and not won an award; staff are resubmitting with improvements that will hopefully improve our scoring.

  • Resolution To Approve a Professional Services Agreement with Stantec Consulting Services Inc. for Geothermal Advisory and Design Services ($140,000) (CA-12). Ann Arbor has aggressive climate action goals, a directive from City Council to pursue a sustainable heating franchise (our existing gas franchise with DTE expires in 2027), and Dept. of Energy grant funding to design a district geothermal system in the Bryant neighborhood. City staff are strongly recommending that the City move forward with a more detailed analysis of the viability of large-scale geothermal and thermal energy networks in the City, and in the fall of 2023 solicited proposals for geothermal advisory services. This includes conducting an evaluation of the technical feasibility of creating district geothermal systems and/or thermal energy networks throughout the City.

  • Ordinance to Amend Chapter 105 (Housing Code) (Building Regulations) (PH-1). This set of revisions to the City's Early Leasing Ordinance and Right to Renew Ordinance is intended to address numerous tenant complaints that landlords are using loopholes to apply pressure to tenants to renew leases early in their leasing period. Ann Arbor's high demand for housing and low supply has created enormous pressure on residents who rent housing (55% of Ann Arbor's residents), and strengthening tenant protections is a key component to addressing this. (Sponsors: Radina, Harrison, Cornell, Briggs and Watson). (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).

  • Ordinance to Amend Chapter 42 (Open Space and Parkland Preservation) of Title III of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor (C-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. 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. A redlined version of the proposed ordinance changes is available as is a staff memo.

  • Motion to Reconsider Feb. 20 Vote on Golf Cart Lease (DC-2). On February 20th, City Council rejected a resolution that would have approved a 4-year lease of gas-powered golf carts for use at the City's two municipal golf courses. City Council received a staff memo this week emphasizing that we do not have a feasible funding path for converting from gas to electric golf carts at this time. The infrastructure for supporting an electric fleet does not exist at either golf course, and the estimated cost for building this infrastructure is in excess of $1.2M. Spending that money would mean forgoing other immediate parks funding needs. For that reason, staff requests "the reconsideration and approval of this lease agreement, and for Council to allow this capital planning process to conclude before staff are required to provide a plan for conversion of this fleet to electrical golf carts." Any council member on the prevailing side of a vote can bring an item back for consideration, and that is what CM Radina has done. (Sponsor: Radina)


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.


How Council Voted

The Ann Arbor Voting Charts Project is a community-maintained record of voting history for City Council. Check out the February 20th, 2024 Council Voting chart.


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