Ypsilanti City Council

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
Ypsilanti Police
City of Ypsilanti / cityofypsilanti.com

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. 

Some Ypsilanti City Council members aren't happy with City Manager Ralph Lange's decision not to identify the two finalists to be the city's next Chief of Police. 

The finalists will appear at a public forum one week from tonight, but Lange has opted not to identify them.  

WEMU news has obtained emails between several council members and the City Manager's office. 

Council members express concerns over the names not being released, as well as confusion over plans to have three finalists to bring before the public rather than two. 

Ypsi Heritage Festival asks City to Cap Fees

Dec 4, 2013
Bob Eccles

The Ypsilanti Heritage Festival made a plea to City Council Tuesday night to put a cap on the special event fees the city charges it. 

David Nickerson is Chair of the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival Board of Trustees.  He told council those fees represent 18 percent of festival expenses.

Nickerson requested that the city cap fees charged the festival at between $18,000 and $20,000.  Nickerson estimates next year's fees at between $25,000 and $28,000 otherwise. 

Mayor Paul Schreiber said he'd like to see the city make a contribution to the festival as a sponsor rather than just cap fees.

Council member Daniel Vogt said the city can't afford to subisidise the Heritage Festival unless the city can break even, perhaps by helping the festival find other areas in which to make cuts.

City staff will study the issue and come back to council with a recommendation at a later date.

Bob Eccles

Ypsilanti property owners would have 24 hours instead of 48 to clear snow from their sidewalks under an ordinance approved on first reading Tuesday night by city council. 

City Planner Teresa Gillotti says with Ypsilanti trying to be a walkable city, snow on sidewalks can be a problem.

Gillotti says she checked with a number of surrounding communities, and found that most give property owners 12 to 24 hours to clear snow. 

The ordinance approved by city council also calls for giving violators one warning per season, rather than one warning each time there’s an inch or more of snow, as the law is currently written.

The ordinance is expected back for a second reading an final approval at council's next meeting.


Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber hasn't said whether he'll run for re-election in 2014, but if he does, he'll face a challenge from Amanda Edmonds. 

The Growing Hope Executive Director is also vice-chair of the Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority. She's vice-chair of the Washtenaw Food Policy Council, and was appointed by the Governor to a similar organization at the state level.

The 36 year-old is running as a Democrat.

Work on a proposed Washtenaw County recreation facility on Ypsilanti's Water Street property is rolling along. WEMU's Bob Eccles has the story. 


The Ypsilanti Planning Commission last night approved the city’s revised master plan.  WEMU’s Bob Eccles has the story.


TheRide / Ann Arbor Transportation Authority

The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority is a step closer to adding another member community.  As WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports, the AAATA Board last night voted unanimously to approve Ypsilanti Township's request to join the authority.

Bob Eccles

As marchers descend on Washington, D.C. this weekend to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic civil rights march, Ypsilanti Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson is among them.

WEMU's Bob Eccles has the story.

Ypsilanti City Council has voted unanimously to have the city Assessor create a tax roll for the city-wide Streetlight Special Assessment District, and to file the roll for public examination. 

The cost of replacing streetlights with more efficient LEDs will be covered by the $58 every parcel of city land would pay each year for two years.  That's a big change from the original proposal, which had residents paying for the replacement and operation of the lights for the next 18-years. 

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