A pair of consulting firms are working with Ann Arbor's Downtown Development Authority to create a framework to be used to make more active streetscapes. The DDA approved a $150,000 contract for the downtown street framework plan.
DDA board Member John Mouat says the framework will be designed so streets that face different challenges and issues can be tailored to meet their particular needs. He says the DDA, the city, or private developers should all be able to use the framework. Mouat says some additional civil engineering work may be done for the city to look at infrastructure under the streets.
City Council last night voted nine to two in favor of the first reading of a new ordinance amendment limiting the DDA's TIF capture.
Chair of the DDA board Sandi Smith says this is a better plan than council originally considered but she thinks it will still hurt the city in the long run.
City Council member Stephen Kunselman says the amendment will allow the DDA to continue to do great work downtown, but force the authority to be more responsive to the city and other taxing authorities.
The amendment also caps DDA board members to three consecutive terms and requires annual contributions to the DDA's housing fund.
If a sale of the former YMCA site in Ann Arbor is completed with the owner of the Campus Inn and Bell Tower Hotel, the development will include retail, two floors of large plate office space, and residential space for the upper floors.
City Council last night unanimously passed a resolution for city staff to negotiate with Dennis Dahlmann who bid $5.25 million for the property.
CA Ventures increased their bid after the deadline, but council member Stephen Kunselman says it's important that city negotiates with the original high bidder.
Kunselman says it's been a decade that the city has been trying to decide what to do with this property so he's glad to see progress finally being made. After expenses are covered the city will commit proceeds from the sale to affordable housing.
Long-time Ann Arbor City Council member Marcia Higgins said goodbye to the board last night at her final meeting. Higgins never imagined she would serve so long when she was first elected in 1999.
Higgins says she's most proud of something not very glamorous, work to clean up contradictions in the city's zoning language, adding that there is now more transparency in the city's budget and the labor contracts are better than they used to be.
Higgins says she was blessed to work with many great city council members, and it's important for council to listen to each other and work together. She explained that she was initially sad when she lost in the August primary but is now excited to have time to do things she's put off for years.
Ann Arbor Police have made three arrests connected to this summer's death of a University of Michigan Medical student. A press release says no other suspects are believed to be outstanding, and there does not appear to be any previous affiliation between the suspects and Paul DeWolf. The suspects also don't have any known connection with the University of Michigan or the U.S. Air Force. DeWolf was an Air Force Second Lieutenant. He was found dead in his apartment in July.
Voters in Ann Arbor's Second Ward have re-elected Jane Lumm to City Council. Lumm claimed 56 percent of the vote yesterday, while Democrat Kirk Westphal received 42 percent and Conrad Brown of the Mixed Use Party got two percent.
Lumm says her victory is another sign Ann Arbor voters want a focus on core services. Lumm says she's pleased that overall city council continues to gain independent voices that will encourage greater debate.
Westphal says he hopes to continue to serve on the planning commission and other boards but is concerned city council will pass on opportunities to enhance Ann Arbor's future.
Incumbent Ann Arbor City Council member Stephen Kunselman has defeated a challenge from a former campaign volunteer. Kunselman received 70 percent of the vote yesterday, with Sam DeVarti of the Mixed Use Party claiming 28 percent.
Kunselman says the results of all of the council races show voters still want a greater priority placed on core services. He says council will continue to focus on making stronger neighborhoods. Kunselman says it will be nice to have more allies on council as he looks to run for mayor next year.
Democrat Jack Eaton claimed nearly 90 percent of the vote for Ann Arbor's fourth ward City Council race, and incumbent Mike Anglin won in the fifth ward with about 68 percent.
Eaton and Anglin were the only names on the ballot in their respective wards, but both candidates also faced write-in campaigns in the last few weeks before the election.
Eaton says the write-in efforts came without participation in debates and other campaigning so voters couldn't get a clear picture of these candidates.
Eaton's challenger was William Lockwood, while Anglin faced write-in campaigns from Thomas Partridge who announced his campaign months ago and Chip Smith who registered as a write-in candidate less than a month ago. Eaton also faced a tongue-in-check write in campaign from a 20 pound carp that was pulled from a pond in West Park a year ago.
Un-official election results have Saline Township voters saying "yes" to a road maintenance millage renewal. The one-mil issue generates revenue to take care of the township's gravel non-primary roads.
School district voters appeared generous with their support Tuesday, approving an operational millage renewal for Saline Area Schools. Ann Arbor schools voters also approved a sinking fund millage renewal.
A local pedestrian safety advocate has launched an online petition drive to prompt state lawmakers to pass a Michigan crosswalk law.
Former Ann Arbor school board member Kathy Griswold says crosswalks in her city lack the proper infrastructure, such as good lighting, to be safe to use. She points to a new mid-block crossing on Huron east of State as an example where lighting has been an issue.
Griswold says a state crosswalk law would mean standardized, safe pedestrian crossings across Michigan.
Ann Arbor officials believe the city is pretty well prepared to handle a wide variety of disasters, but hope to win a one-million dollar grant to become even more resilient. Ann Arbor applied to the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities program.
Environmental Coordinator Matt Naud says many of the communities that applied are coastal communities facing rising water levels, hurricanes and other issues. He says Ann Arbor has a different story to tell and could serve as a good model community for across much of the US and the globe. Naud adds that with climate change the types of storms Ann Arbor does face are more extreme now than in the past.
He maintains that the resilient cities program can help strengthen neighborhoods to respond to disasters with less need for outside help.
The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority wants your opinion on its overall performance in a series of public meetings.
Marketing Coordinator Don Kline says The Ride is seeking public feedback for it's five-year transit improvement program. The program aims to increase transit access in under-served areas with more destinations, and more frequent and direct service.
Voters in Ann Arbor's 5th ward tomorrow will have a choice of three candidates, although only one name will appear on the ballot. Incumbent Democrat Mike Anglin is seeking re-election. His name will be the only name voters see.
But, as WEMU's David Fair reports, there are two Democratic write-in candidates seeking to pull off an upset:
For nearly a decade, Ann Arbor Public Schools have been able to fund a variety of facility upgrades through a sinking fund millage that brings in about $7.4 million a year. District voters tomorrow will be aske to continue the sinking fund from 2015 through 2019.
Election Day is tomorrow, and in Ann Arbor's 4th ward, the outcome is just about certain. Democrat John Eaton, or Jack, as he prefers to be called, defeated current councilwoman Marcia Higgins in the August Primary, and appeared to be unopposed for the general election.
But, as WEMU's David Fair reports, voters do have the option of a registered write-in candidate: