Ypsilanti City Council

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Ypsilanti City Council member Ricky Jefferson says he will not seek re-election.

Jefferson has represented Ward One since winning election in 2010, and told WEMU news earlier this month that he was interested in another term.

In a statement to supporters, neighbors and business owners, Jefferson said he has pondered the decision for months with his wife, his Pastor and his advisors, and came to the conclusion that "this is the best decision for my family, my supporters and me."

Pete Murdock

Ypsilanti City Council member Pete Murdock says he's filed nominating petitions to run for Mayor.

Murdock says Ypsilanti has done a lot to "right its ship", and he'd like to help maintain that direction.

"We've done a lot of things financially and things are looking a little better than they were four years ago, six years ago," Murdock says. "I think I have the experience and knowledge to provide that leadership."

Murdock says public safety and economic development will continue to be big issues, and he's hopeful the AAATA transit millage will pass next month.

Ypsilanti Residents Glad Road Repairs Are Coming

Apr 16, 2014
Bob Eccles

People who live and work along Prospect Road in Ypsilanti are glad to hear the city has approved spending some money to patch up the road and improve driving conditions until the road is completely re-built next year.

Jim Mufarreh owns Prospect Party Store at Prospect and Forest.

"Long time coming," Mufarreh says. "It's well-needed. It's terrible out there. It's a terrible road. It's been needed for years."

Mark Naess lives in the area, and he says the road is almost undriveable.

Ypsilanti City Council tonight is expected to consider a resolution to spend $249,000 to fix some of the city's worst roads. 

Council member Ricky Jefferson says the city has already had to pay on a couple of claims of bent wheel rims, and the problem is only going to get worse if it's not addressed.

The resolution up for council's consideration would target four specific sections of city streets:

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The terms of three Ypsilanti city council members expire in November, and at least two of them are seeking re-election.

Ricky Jefferson represents the city's first ward, and he tells WEMU news he'd like another term in office.

Daniel Vogt represents ward two. He says he'll file for re-election soon.

Council member Brian Robb's term also ends in November. He hasn't indicated whether he'll seek re-election. 

Mayor Paul Schreiber won't seek another term, and Growing Hope executive director Amanda Edmonds is running to take his place. 

Bob Eccles

Ypsilanti City Council Tuesday night adopted a resolution asking the state to withdraw its appeal of the federal court ruling that says Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

The vote was six to one, with  Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson voting "no", arguing that the issue should be allowed to finish its journey through the court system.

The resolution will be forwarded to Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette.

City Council also approved improvements at two city parks requested by council members Brian Robb and Pete Murdock.

Water Street Development Plans Coming Along

Mar 21, 2014
Bob Eccles

Interest in Ypsilanti's Water Street redevelopment area continues to grow, as the three projects currently proposed  make their way through the process.

City Planner Teresa Gillotti says most of the interest lately is from residential developers. 

She says the Family Dollar store is close to closing, with construction beginning in April or May.  The Water Street Flats developer finds out in July whether they've received the state tax credits needed to move forward.  And a purchase agreement for the Washtenaw County Recreation Center is expected in the next month or so.

Bob Eccles

Developers of the Thompson Block in Ypsilanti's Depot Town have secured a 12-year Obsolete Property Rehiabilitation Act tax credit from city council.

Project partner Tyler Weston said the city also approved a Brownfield plan for the project, so the next step is to ask Washtenaw County for Brownfield tax credits.

"What Brownfield allows us to do is essentially get paid back for site improvements at the property" Weston explained.  He said those improvements include things like added parking space and structural improvements to the building.

Bob Eccles

With developers of the Thompson Block securing their first commercial letter of intent, City Council tonight will consider a tax exemption to help move redevelopment of the property forward.

Thompson Block partner Tyler Weston says a local restaurant entrepreneur has taken the first step toward becoming a tenant, and a coffee shop has also expressed interest. 

Weston says the development plan has improved greatly since he came on board a year ago, with parking space now included for commercial and residential tenants, along with patio space for commercial tenants.

Bob Eccles

Ypsilanti City Council Tuesday night voted 4-3 to approve a purchase agreement for the Water Street Flats affordable housing proposal. 

Bob Eccles

As Ypsilanti City Council prepares to vote on a purchase agreement for the Water Street Flats affordable housing proposal, downtown businesses are sounding off on the project.

  

    

Business owners have been portrayed as being united in opposition to it, but an informal survey shows most like the idea or don't really have an opinion.  

Of the 13 businesses WEMU news asked, four said they support Water Street Flats, two are opposed and seven didn't feel strongly either way. 

Bob Eccles / 89.1 WEMU

If Ypsilanti city staff had hoped to convince Sandy Ellinger that the proposed Water Street Flats affordable housing proposal is a good idea, they were not successful.

Ellinger wasn't for or against the proposal when she came to Tuesday night's City Council workshop on the project, but at the end of the meeting she said if it were up to a vote of the people, she'd vote "no".

Ellinger said she had concerns that the city was going to be "left holding the bag" if the proposal doesn't work out, and she said the appearance of the building was also worrisome. 

The city plans to sell a 3.14 acre parcel of land on the southern edge of the Water Street Redevelopment Area to a developer who would build a four-story, 90-unit apartment building there. 

Everyone who spoke on the subject during the public comment period last night had concerns, which you can listen to below. 

City Council is expected to consider a purchase agreement for the project at its March 4th meeting.

Ypsilanti City Council has approved replacing old lights and fixtures in city buildings and parking lots with more energy-efficient LED lights.  

Changing the lights in City Hall, the police and fire departments and their adjoining parking lots is expected to cost $48,000, but will save the city between $8,000 and $12,000 a year in energy costs and about $8,000 a year in labor costs.  

Rebates from D-T-E will save the city an additional $3,000 to $4,000 a year.

Ypsilanti City Council won't be considering the issue of surveillance cameras in public places - at least not for now.  

City Manager Ralph Lange asked council whether they'd like him to start working on a policy that would cover cameras in areas where crime has been a concern, like along LeForge Road.  

The cameras would supplement surveillance equipment being installed by apartment complexes in the area.  

Mayor Paul Schreiber and council member Pete Murdock said they were skeptical of the effectiveness of cameras in fighting crime.

Ypsilanti City Council Tuesday night voted down a Special Events Policy designed to go after fees and charges the city hasn't been collecting.  

In voting "no", council member Brian Robb said if the city hasn't been collecting the fees, maybe it doesn't need to.  

Mayor Paul Schreiber said he didn't think the public has had enough time to examine changes in the policy, which is available on the city's website.  

The policy will likely be back before city council at its first meeting in March.

Ypsilanti City Council Tuesday night approved the installation of speed humps on several residential streets near Prospect Road, streets that neighbors say drivers use to avoid Prospect, which is in bad shape and scheduled for re-construction. 

Several residents of Dwight Street spoke in favor of the temporary speed humps, which would be placed on Dwight, Hemphill and Stanley.  The speed humps – on in each block, for a total of six – will cost the city $18,000

Ypsilanti City Council last night approved City Manager Ralph Lange's first performance evaluation.   Council member Brian Robb chaired the committee that oversaw the review.

Ypsilanti Hikes Fines for Illegal Dumping

Feb 7, 2014

Fines for illegal dumping are going way up in Ypsilanti, in the hopes that it'll help curb a problem that's been costing the Downtown Development Authority money to clean up after.   Mayor Paul Schreiber says one spot in particular has become a haven for illegal dumping. He says people have been leaving things like sofas at the Dumpsters behind businesses along Michigan Avenue. Fines that used to start at $50 for illegal dumping will now start at $2,500 and could go as high as $5,000.

It'll be at least a couple more weeks before Ypsilanti City Council approves a new Special Events Policy. Council put the issue off until its next meeting in order to give organizers of events that might be affected by new or increased charges a chance to offer their thoughts.   Amanda Edmonds is Executive Director of Growing Hope, which runs the downtown Ypsilanti Farmer's Market.  Events like the Farmer's Market that run over a period of months could face additional street closure fees than have been assessed in the past, but Edmonds says it doesn't look like the Farmer's Market would pay substantially more than it does now. The city says it wants to do a better job of capturing fees that have "fallen through the cracks" in the past. Council member Brian Robb calls the policy a "no win" for Ypsilanti.

Low Income Housing
Images_of_Money / Foter / CC BY

Ypsilanti City Council Tuesday night approved the second and final reading of legislation to sell the city's remaining public housing stock to a private owner.  

The Ypsilanti Housing Commission will be a partner with the new owner.  

Zachary Fosler is the Housing Commission's Executive Director. He says having the public housing facilities under private ownership will make it easier for the properties to get the renovations and maintenance they need, since federal money for public housing improvements is no longer available.  

Bob Eccles

Ypsilanti City Council has approved a letter of intent to sell a parcel of land in the Water Street Re-Development Area to a company that wants to build a 76-unit affordable housing project there. 

Michael Rodriguez is Development Director for Herman and Kittle Properties.  He says the  3.13 acre parcel on the southern edge of the re-development area is attractive for several reasons, including proximity to the Huron River and Michigan Avenue.

The housing development wasn't welcomed by everyone. 

Downtown businessman Dave Heikkinen expressed concerns that the city needs more market-rate housing rather than housing that caters to low-income residents. 

The city would sell the land for $157,000, with the developer performing about $750,000 worth of infrastructure improvements.  The plan is to have a purchase agreement back before city council in March.


Ypsilanti City Council has approved a plan for key infrastructure needs such as streets, water, and sewer lines in the Water Street area. 

Council voted five to nothing Tuesday night to accept the infrastructure plan. 

Mayor Paul Schreiber says the city has now completed a couple of important steps to attract redevelopment to Water Street.  Schreiber says originally the plan was to leave Water Street open for any proposal but he says the city has seen this approach left developers concerned about what could be built next to their project.   He says being able to better define the parcels of land in Water Street should lead to more interest from developers.

Thompson Block
Courtesy Photo

Ypsilanti City Council has rezoned the long vacant Thompson Block property in Depot Town and approved the planned unit development agreement for the site. 

Council voted five to nothing on the issue Tuesday night. 

 SEE ALSO: Corner Brewery now Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery

City Planner Teresa Gillotti says the current plan for the Thompson Block is a bigger and better project than the earlier proposal so it needed to be a planned unit development.  Gillotti adds that the changes include adding residential parking behind the building and streetscape improvements along River Street for cafe seating.

Gillotti explained that the actual building permits will likely be similar however to the previous designs, adding the fire has eliminated a bay window from the front of the building and the entrance for the residential portion of the building has moved from the north side to the east side with the addition of the parking lot.

Gillotti maintains developers have two years to complete a PUD, however the Thompson Block faces a deadline in about 15 months for a finished building under the city's dangerous building ordinance.

Former Elbow Room Building Gets New Life

Dec 9, 2013

The former site of Ypsilanti's Elbow Room bar is being put back to use, with a Mexican restaurant moving into the South Washington Street building. 

City Planner Teressa Gillotti explains that the building has been empty since the bar closed in 2011, adding that having a strong entertainment district would play a critical role in redeveloping Ypsilanti.

The restaurant's expected to open next spring following renovations.

Ypsilanti Police Chief Finalists Identified

Dec 5, 2013

After a flurry of concerned emails from city council members, Ypsilanti City Manager Ralph Lange has released the names of the two finalists to be Ypsilanti's next Chief of Police. 

Ypsilanti Deputy Chief Tony Digiusti is a finalist.  He's served as interim Chief since Amy Walker's retirement in October

Also a finalist is former East Lansing Police Captain Kim P. Johnson, whose resume indicates he was with that department until June of last year but lists no more recent work experience. 

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