Ann Arbor City Council

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City of Ann Arbor

The potential number of contested Ann Arbor City Council primaries continues to grow.  While only incumbent first ward city council member Sumi Kailasapathy is officially set to appear on the August Democratic Primary ballot now, eight other people have pulled petitions.

  

Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Ann Arbor City Council has approved using between 6500 square feet to 12,000 square feet of the land above the underground parking structure for an urban park.

Andrew Cluley

Ann Arbor will use general fund money to help the public art program transition to a new funding model, but over $940,000 in old percent for art funds are being returned to their original sources.  That’s the result of three resolutions passed by city council Monday night to hopefully end the long debate over the program.  


Andrew Cluley

Monday Ann Arbor City Council will consider a resolution that would designate about 10-thousand square feet of the surface lot on top of the Library Lane parking garage as the site of a future park.  City officials have long stated a portion of the area will become park space, but this resolution would nail down the specific location. 

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The University of Michigan can go ahead with plans to buy the Edwards Brothers property on State Street for nearly 13 million dollars.  Ann Arbor City Council voted six to five Monday night against using the right of first refusal to match the university’s offer.  

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A decision is expected Monday night as Ann Arbor officials debate whether they should buy a State Street Property or have it permanently removed from the tax rolls.  City Council is holding a special meeting to consider using a right of first refusal to buy the Edwards Brothers property.  

Ann Arbor City Council remains conflicted on the city’s public art program.  Council Tuesday night voted ten to nothing for an ordinance amendment that allows them to return old percent for art funds to their original source.  Two resolutions to actually do this however were postponed.  

With the deadline to use a right of first refusal to buy the Edwards Brothers Property on State Street about a week away, Ann Arbor City Council will hold a special meeting on the issue Monday.  

Public art and the future of the Edwards Brothers property on State Street again take center stage at Tuesday night's Ann Arbor City Council meeting.  

Communities across the nation are facing shortages of road salt thanks to this year's harsh winter weather.  Ann Arbor isn't in as bad a situation as many communities but the city is looking at buying more salt.

Ann Arbor service area leaders have shared their requests for budget changes with City Council.  Changes discussed Monday night include adding three police officers, two additional fire-fighters, and $80,000 for transitioning the public art program to a new model.  

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Ann Arbor officials are reviewing the city’s footing drain disconnection program and trying to determine what if anything is needed to avoid future sewer back-ups during heavy rains.


The battle over the future of public art in Ann Arbor continues, with City Council approving the first reading of an ordinance amendment to allow them to return up to $840,000 to other departments.

A six month extension of Public Art Administrator Aaron Seagraves contract was then rejected.

Council member Jack Eaton expects to bring the contract back up for a vote after final approval of the amendment to the public art ordinance to allow old "Percent for Art" funds to be returned.  Eaton says he's sorry for Seagraves but democracy is sometimes messy.

Council member Jane Lumm wants proposed Art Projects at Argo Cascades, the Stadium Bridges, and the Kingsley Rain Garden completed.  However she thinks a clean break needs to be made between the old program and one where the city partners with a non-profit organization.

Chair of the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission Bob Miller says a change would be good but it appears city council is holding public art administrator Aaron Seagraves hostage over the funding debate.

Mayor John Hieftje is disappointed with council's vote on the administrator, and fears they may lose him even if the contract extension is approved in two weeks.

Earlier WEMU coverage of the Public Art Funding issues can be found here:

Edwards Brothers Malloy
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Ann Arbor City Council will take another two weeks before deciding if they want to purchase the Edwards Brothers property on State Street. 

The city is considering exercising a right of first refusal to stop the University of Michigan from buying the land. 

Mayor John Hieftje doesn't think the recent experience with the former YMCA property will have much influence on this State Street parcel.  He says that's because downtown property is in great demand while Edwards Brothers is well south of downtown.
  
Ann Arbor would have to match U-M's $12.8 million purchase price for the property. 

Map of the Edwards Brothers property is here:

City Council last night also postponed action on a first reading of a proposed smoking ban for city parks, bus stops, and entrances to city buildings.   The delay is so council members can get feedback from some of the organizations that would be impacted by the proposal.

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Ann Arbor may spend nearly $13 million in the hopes of ultimately keeping a State Street property on the tax rolls.  City Council Monday will consider a resolution to use their right of first refusal to purchase the Edwards Brothers property instead of it being sold to the University of Michigan. 

Another pair of items on the agenda will have a big impact on the future of public art in the city.  Council will consider the first reading of an ordinance amendment to allow uncommitted percent for art funds return to their source.    Several council members have pushed for this move in the past, but others say the money is needed as the Public Art Commission looks to move to a new funding model relying on donations.

A six month contract extension for Public Art Administrator Aaron Seagraves was postponed two weeks ago and will be considered again.  The delay was designed to have his contract considered at the same time the funding issue would be debated.

Crosswalks in Ann Arbor
matthileo / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Ann Arbor City Council soon may be once more looking at revisions to the city's crosswalk ordinance. 

Council member Stephen Kunselman says another proposed amendment is likely.  He adds that the new proposal will be based on language used by Mayor John Hieftje in his veto of the amendment council passed late last year.  Kunselman says the mayor mentioning motorists need to stop if they can do so safely is a change.

Hiefjte says the comment about motorists stopping if they can safely do so is nothing new.  He says pedestrians remain safer if they don't have to step into the road to get motorists to stop. 

The city also has a new task force looking at a wide variety of pedestrian safety issues including the crosswalk ordinance.


Ann Arbor City Council has passed a resolution asking the planning commission to move forward with some zoning changes on the edge of downtown. 

Council unanimously passed the resolution Tuesday night after asking the planning commission to also make suggestions on possible zoning changes for other downtown areas. 

Council member Sabra Briere says a lot of hard work remains on what core design guidelines should be considered for developers to be eligible to build larger projects.

Briere says the request for planning commission to review areas such as South University, Thayer, and Ann is in response to concerns raised by the community that the initial review was too limited.
She says the consultant that worked on the project and the planning commission noted this desire by the community to expand the scope of the project, but the planning commission's final recommendation was limited to the original council request.

Ann Arbor City Council has approved the site plan and development agreement for an apartment building at 624 Church Street.  The proposal is for a 14 story apartment building built partially over the Pizza House Restaurant.  The plan calls for 232 bedrooms in 123 units. 

The project has been given positive reviews from the city’s Design Review Board but parking issues led to a lengthy conversation at the council table.  The concerns centered around having spaces reserved in the Forest Avenue parking structure for the next 15 years, and three five year extensions to have spaces somewhere in the city’s parking system. 

Council members say the city’s payment in lieu of parking program needs to be reviewed, as well as the requirement for parking at downtown developments. 

The developers of the project hope to begin work in the spring with a targeted occupancy date in August of 2015.

The former chair of the Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission is once more seeking a seat on City Council. 

Julie Grand has announced she will run for the third ward seat Council member Christopher Taylor is opting not to try to keep as he instead runs for mayor.  Grand says she learned some lessons from her narrow defeat to Council member Stephen Kunselman in last year's democratic primary.  She says however her philosophy remains the same.

Grand says she is still running to try to make a direct impact on the quality of life in Ann Arbor.  She says the city needs leaders who use data, best practices, and community engagement to make decisions on issues while also working on constituent services.

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Ann Arbor City Council wants some more information as they consider using their right of first refusal to purchase the Edward Brothers property on South State Street. 

Council Monday night voted unanimously to have the city administrator and city attorney study the issue and identify options to make buying the property financially feasible. 

With over 100 on-street parking meters removed in Ann Arbor since 2006 and an additional 12 meters pending, city council has approved a new policy dealing with the issue. Council Monday night approved the policy that would charge developers $45,000 per meter permanently removed plus the projected ten year value for the meter. 

Work hasn't progressed on the proposed Fuller Road Station in over a year and the University of Michigan is instead building a parking structure between Maiden Lane and Wall Street. 

City Council Monday night passed a resolution formally terminating the Memorandum of Understanding with U of M regarding the proposed project. 

City Council member Stephen Kunselman says it's good to tie up the loose ends.

U of M and the city first agreed to the Memorandum of Understanding in 2010.  The proposal however had many critics that say parkland shouldn't be used for a transit center.

— Andrew Cluley is the Ann Arbor beat reporter, and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him acluley@emich.edu.

The Ann Arbor Street Fair, The Orginal

The Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original has been running at a financial deficit the last few years. Event organizers put the annual losses at a range from $5,700  to $8,000. 

Ann Arbor City Council  is dedicating $10,000 to it's community events fund to help cover anticipated losses in 2014. City Council Member Christopher Taylor explains that the unique importance of the art fair makes it worth supporting.

SEE ALSO: The Shadow Art Fair Set To Make Its Last Stand

Overall, the city charges the four art fairs about $60,000 for barriers, extra safety services, and trash removal.  $8,000  is paid by the original art fair.  This fair also pays rent to the University of Michigan and has limited sponsorship options because it's located on campus.

Christopher Taylor also says that the the other three art fairs haven't requested funding from the city, but did write in support of the original art fair receiving assistance.  He says the unique importance of the art fair to the city makes this investment worthwhile and doesn't serve as a precedent for funding other events.

Listen to Andrew Cluley's full report.

 — Andrew Cluley is a reporter and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him aCluley@emich.edu.

The Ann Arbor Police department won't be getting any new officers in January. But, a couple of assignments are changing.

Another Ann Arbor City Council member is seeking outgoing Mayor John Hieftje's job.
Third Ward Democrat Christopher Taylor today announced he's running for mayor in 2014.

Stephen Kunselman who also represents the third ward on council has already announced he's running, while Hieftje has said he won't seek re-election.

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