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Dharma's Council Newsletter, November 4th, 2023

Neighbors, City Council meets on Monday, November 6th. Before I get to a preview of our agenda, I have some updates to share with you.


Compost Program Change to Reduce Plastic in Compost

Starting January 1, 2024, the City of Ann Arbor and its compost facility operator will no longer accept BPI-only certified material in compost carts or at the city's compost facility. This includes the biodegradable plastic liners that many of us use in our kitchen compost collector. Instead, only selected products identified as being certified "CMA-W" and made of fiber material will be accepted. A list is ​available (PDF) of currently selected and certified CMA-W, fiber only products that will be accepted by our composting partner. To learn more about this coming change, visit: https://tinyurl.com/bdsvwmyn. Your Feedback on A2Fixit Requested by Nov. 20th The City is conducting a survey of resident experiences with the city’s service request tool, A2 Fix It. The survey takes only two minutes to complete and will be open until Monday, Nov. 20th, 2023. To take the survey, please visit: https://forms.office.com/g/fg8umPYP6Y. Ann Arbor Bicentennial Celebration Planning and Opportunities The Ann Arbor Bicentennial Coordinating Committee is working on planning a thoughtful, meaningful year of festivities, which will be celebrated over the full 12 months of 2024. The City is encouraging individuals and groups to become involved and plan or align their own activities during the 12-month celebration. Interested groups should reach out to the committee via the website form at www.a2bicentennial.org. Examples include:

  • If a group or organization is planning a bicentennial-related event/activity that will be open to the public.

  • If you operate a retail establishment and you’re willing to help promote the bicentennial by displaying signage, decorations, offering special bicentennial sale days, creating menu items, etc. at various points during 2024.

  • If you already host annual events and are willing to “cobrand” your activity during 2024 to help support and raise awareness of the celebration.


City Council Meeting, Monday, November 6th at 7pm

Agenda Highlights

  • Resolution to Approve Stipulation and Settlement Agreement Regarding DTE's Distributed Generation Tariff Options (CA-11). The City has been an intervener in a case to represent residents with rooftop solar. DTE has had a 1% cap on customers that can connect solar to their grid, a limit that was quickly drawing near. The City intervened to represent the interests of residents with rooftop solar to ensure they were fairly compensated once the 1% cap was reached. However, recently DTE has agreed to voluntarily increase its cap to 6%. As a result of this increase, DTE is not expected to reach its cap for several years. Thus, there is no immediate need to determine tariff options for customers with rooftop solar because they will continue to be connected at least until the new 6% cap is reached. Passage of this resolution would have the City settle its case.

  • 900 Briarwood Rezoning (C-2). This is the first reading of an ordinance to rezone two areas totaling 8.3 acres from P to C2B to allow the construction of 354 residential units to replace a portion of existing parking lot at Briarwood Mall. The plan includes retail and a grocery store to replace the empty Sears store that closed in 2018. This passed in Planning Commission 8-0.

  • Ordinance to Change the Unified Development Code Amendment for Premiums, D1 and D2 Floor Area (C-3). This is the first reading of an ordinance that would eliminate the floor area premiums and change the maximum FAR (floor area ratio as a percentage of lot area) of the D1 (Downtown Core) and D2 (Downtown Interface) districts from 900% and 400%, respectively, to none. The premiums were created in 2019 to incentivize developers to build affordable housing downtown. However, the premiums have not resulted in any developer-subsidized affordable housing units. Additionally, it has slowed residential growth in the downtown, where we want to grow. Consultants worked with the Planning Commission and City planning staff since February to evaluate the current standards and determine if resulting development is consistent with the City’s comprehensive plan goals. This work concluded that the premium program was not consistent with the City’s goals and plans. Staff states that "the proposed amendments reflect the simplest, clearest, and most straightforward option to increase the downtown resident population in a location that is inherently sustainable and best suited to the highest density development. Development opportunities will be equally available to all downtown sites, and will be plainly regulated by existing height, setback, and design standards." This passed in Planning Commission 7-0.

  • Ordinance to Amend TC1 Front Setbacks (C-4). This amendment is proposed in response to Council Resolution R-22-390 calling for the City Planning Commission to evaluate and recommend amendments to the TC1 district to address constraints of existing narrow rights-of-way. If passed, developments in the TC1 district on a designated transit corridor will be required to have a minimum front setback of 18 feet (whereas they are currently set at 0) and a maximum of 28 feet measured from the street curb line. As noted by staff, "using the curb line as a reference for required front setbacks provides a measure that ensures there is space for pedestrian amenities at the time the development is constructed and in the future." This is particularly needed where existing sidewalks are narrow (5-feet along much of Stadium) and the existing roadway width is insufficient to accommodate transit, bike, and pedestrian infrastructure. 6 affirmative votes are required in Planning Commission to pass. It failed 5-3 (5 voted in favor, 3 voted against).

  • Resolution to Accelerate Safety Improvements on Multilane Roads (DC-4). I brought a version of this resolution to Transportation Commission in October, where it gained unanimous support. We know that speed is the most important factor in severe crashes on our roadways. Data demonstrate that wide, multi-lane (meaning more than one lane going in a single direction) encourage faster car driving speeds and are inherently more dangerous for all road users. Beyond the dangerous environment created, we are missing opportunities to dedicate some of our roadway to the uses our Transportation Plan promotes, such as an All Ages All Abilities Bike Network and dedicated bus transit facilities. This resolution directs the City Administrator to evaluate opportunities for road reconfigurations, with the goal of reconfiguring multilane roads to advance the city’s safety and sustainability goals; directs the City Administrator to develop a plan for evaluation of reconfiguring all existing multilane roads under the City's jurisdiction by 2030 for Council consideration as part of the FY2025 budget process; and to partner with the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority to prioritize road projects that facilitate the integration of bus lanes, transit priority measures, and/or non-motorized improvements along busy transit corridors (Sponsors: Akmon, Briggs, Cornell).

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 October 16th, 2023 Voting Chart.

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