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Community
4:55 am
Tue December 17, 2013

A2 Council Approves Overtime for Police to Step Up Traffic Enforcement

Motorists around Ann Arbor can expect to see more police cars focused on traffic enforcement in January. 

City Council Monday night voted ten to one to provide $125,000 to the police department to fund overtime for officers specifically focused on traffic enforcement. 

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Community
4:50 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Ann Arbor to Put Proceeds from Sale of Y Lot In Affordable Housing Fund

The City of Ann Arbor lost 100 units of low-income housing when they had to close the former YMCA building.  Now that the property at 350 South Fifth Avenue is about to be sold the city’s affordable housing will get almost $1.4 million. 

City Council Monday night voted to put all of the revenue from the sale of the property to affordable housing after covering the initial purchase price, closing and broker fees. 

Mayor John Hieftje explains that some of the funds could be used to provide some important services to help keep tenants in Miller Manor.  Hieftje adds that the city has made real progress in finding funds for affordable housing in the last year. 

The sale of the Y-Lot to Dennis Dahlmann is expected to close by the end of March.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Ann Arbor City Council opting to put funds from the sale of the old YMCA property in the Affordable Housing Fund.

Community
4:42 am
Tue December 17, 2013

A2 Council Again Delays Decision on Parking Meter Removal Policy

Ann Arbor City Council has once more postponed a decision on a policy to charge developers for the removal of on-street parking meters.   Some fine tuning is expected before council votes on a policy to charge developers $45,000 if their project leads to the removal of on-street parking meters.
The proposed policy was developed by the Downtown Development Authority in response to a growing number of parking meters being removed.

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Community
1:47 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Ann Arbor Mayor Officially Files Veto of Changes to Crosswalk Law

Mayor John Hieftje
Credit City of Ann Arbor

Motorists in Ann Arbor still need to stop for pedestrians waiting at the curb at a crosswalk.  Mayor John Hieftje yesterday formally vetoed an ordinance amendment passed by council last week to only require drivers to stop for pedestrians already in the crosswalk. 

Hieftje says Ann Arbor's current law is safer for pedestrians than the state traffic code and laws in other Michigan cities.  Hieftje says he looks forward to other measures to increase pedestrian safety.  These will include increased education, and enforcement of the crosswalk law. 

Council would need eight votes to override the veto, but only six members voted in favor of the ordinance amendment.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje officially vetoing changes to the crosswalk law.

Community
1:41 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Expectations of Ann Arbor Council Members Discussed at Planning Session

What Ann Arbor City Council members expect of each other and the mayor ended up being the primary discussion item at yesterday's planning session.  Council members created a long list of expectations with most of the issues easily gaining support. 

Julia Novak of the Novak Consulting Group was the meeting facilitator.  Novak says a couple of other expectations took more discussion before all council members would agree to them.  She says this includes sharing information and efforts to make council meetings shorter.

City staff updated council on progress that has been made over the last 12 months on priorities identified at last year's planning session.  Council kept these priorities and tentatively produced new areas of focus for next year, including working on unfunded liabilities, increasing traffic enforcement, promoting work force housing, and efforts to alleviate homelessness.

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Community
7:38 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

A2 DDA to Fund All Main Street Lightpole Replacements

Credit meltedplastic / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Ann Arbor's Downtown Development Authority has resolved a dispute with City Council on the replacement of lighpoles along Main Street by agreeing to fund the entire project.  During the budget approval process in May City Council tweaked the DDA budget, leaving the city responsible for about $280,000 of the $580,000 cost to replace the poles that are rusting out at the base.  In October however City Council failed to approve funding for their portion of the project. 

DDA Board Chair Sandi Smith says this work is too important not to be completed.  Smith says the additional funds will come from money leftover from a more than decade old State Street Improvements project, and next fiscal year's budget.  She says based on how long the entire lightpole replacement project will take having the funds split between two budget years won't be a problem.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Ann Arbor's Downtown Development Authority covering the entire cost of replacing lightpoles on Main Street.

Community
2:54 am
Thu December 5, 2013

DDA Waives Reimbursement for Y-Lot Expenses

Ann Arbor's Downtown Development Authority has asked the city to commit the funds the DDA spent on the former YMCA lot to affordable housing projects.  The DDA board yesterday passed a resolution to waive the reimbursement of their costs on the Y-Lot property, and encourage City Council to commit as much as possible to affordable housing as well. 

DDA Board Member Keith Orr says to make a real impact on affordable housing as much money as possible is needed from the $5.25 million for the sale of the Y-Lot.

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Community
5:38 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Ann Arbor Gets Loan Extension for Former YMCA Site

Ann Arbor City Administrator Steve Powers says work on the sale of the former YMCA lot to Dennis Dahlmann continues to go smoothly.   However with the city facing a December 16th deadline to repay the $3.5 million installment purchase agreement city council has approved a six month extension on the loan. 

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Community
3:51 am
Tue December 3, 2013

Ann Arbor City Council Delays Vote on Removal of Parking Meters Policy

Ann Arbor City Council has delayed a vote on a proposed policy developed by the Downtown Development Authority to address the permanent removal of on-street parking meters.  The two-week delay is so council can hold a public hearing on the issue. 

The policy proposes a $45,000 fee per meter removed for reasons other than an overall benefit to the community. 

DDA Executive Director Susan Pollay says the policy could help the DDA work with developers to get the best possible projects for all.  Pollay says over the last few years about 150 parking meters have been removed for a variety of projects large and small.  She says the policy includes an option for developers to appeal a fee to the city administrator to review if the meter removal is an overall benefit to the community.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on a proposed policy to charge developers if their projects require the removal of on-street parking meters in Ann Arbor.

Community
2:02 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Ann Arbor DDA Board Members Visit Grand Rapids to See Downtown Ambassadors

Ann Arbor City Council asked the Downtown Development Authority earlier this year to consider paying for three downtown beat cops. 

A trip by several DDA board members to Grand Rapids, however, increased the interest by some on the DDA to instead hire downtown ambassadors. 

DDA Board member Keith Orr says ambassadors may better fit the needs of the downtown area.  He says an ambassador in uniform can increase the perception of safety and be in direct contact with police if law enforcement is needed.  He says law enforcement in communities that have hired ambassadors may have shown initial resistance but have come to see them as additional eyes and ears in the community.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board members studying Grand Rapids downtown ambassadors as an alternative to adding beat cops.

Ann Arbor
4:58 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Sale of Former YMCA Lot in Ann Arbor Moves Forward

The City of Ann Arbor and the owner of the Campus Inn and Bell Tower Hotel have reached an agreement for the sale of the former YMCA  property. 

Dennis Dahlmann agreed to all of the conditions required by City Council in addition to his purchase price of $5.25 million  for the property at 350 South Fifth Avenue. 

Mayor John Hieftje says he's excited to have the sale moving forward and have the land providing income to the city and bring more vitality than a surface parking lot.

The sale is expected to close by the end of the year to meet the city's deadline to payoff an interest only loan on the property.  Dahlmann will be required to build a project including ground floor retail, large plate office space, and residential units.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on the sale of Ann Arbor's former YMCA site moving forward.

City Council
1:52 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Ann Arbor Council Limits Downtown Development Authority Financing by 2016

Starting in 2016 Ann Arbor's Downtown Development Authority will have new limitations on the tax increment financing revenue they can capture. After nearly a year of discussions Ann Arbor City Council has given final approval to an ordinance amendment that limits the tax increment financing revenue the Downtown Development Authority can collect.  Last night, City Council voted 9 -  2 in favor of the change. 

WEMU's Andrew Cluley has more:
 

Andrew Cluley reports a a measure to chance the way the DDA is financed

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Transit
7:56 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Public Comments Wanted on 6 Possible Ann Arbor Connector Routes

Credit Courtesy photo / AAConnector.org

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on the possible routes for the Ann Arbor Transit Connector.

Ann Arbor area residents have a chance to review and comment on six possible routes for a high capacity public transit connector service.  The routes linking the Plymouth Road U-S 23 area to the University of Michigan, downtown Ann Arbor, and Briarwood Mall were shared at recent public workshops. 

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Local News
6:20 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Last Week's Election Results to be Certified Soon

It won't be long before we have the official results of last week's elections. 

Ed Golembiewski is Washtenaw County's Elections Director. He says the results will be certified first thing Wednesday morning.

Golembiewski says one provisional ballot was added in Ann Arbor elections, and Ann Arbor city council 5th Ward write-in candidate Chip Smith got an additional 100 votes - not enough to change the results.

Click to hear WEMU's Bob Eccles' report.

Transit
5:54 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Get Downtown Launches 'Conquer the Cold' Commuter Challenge

Credit Getdowntown

Just because the weather's turning cold doesn't mean it's time to give up on your alternative method of commuting. 

The Get Downtown Program is encouraging people to register to participate in this year's "Conquer the Cold" winter commuting challenge. 

Get Downtown Program director Nancy Shore says "Conquer the Cold" aims to keep alternative commutes going.

Downtown Ann Arbor employees can sign up for winter bike commuting classes and register for the commuting challenge, which offers a $500 Bivouac gift card as its top prize. 

WEMU's Bob Eccles reports on the Getdowntown program's Conquer the Cold Commuter Challenge

Community
3:39 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Ann Arbor City Council Requests U-of-M toTake Billboard Down

Marquee rendering
Credit University of Michigan Athletics

Ann Arbor City Council has adopted a resolution asking the University of Michigan to decommission its electronic billboard outside Michigan Stadium. 

The sign is the largest billboard in Ann Arbor and city officials say it's too large, too close to the road, and is distracting to motorists.

3rd Ward council member Christopher Taylor acknowledges he and his colleagues can't actually influence U-of-M's decision on this matter. The most they can do is ask the university to take the sign down.

Taylor doesn't expect council to spend much more time discussing the issue, instead focusing on other issues of mutual interest with U-of-M.

WEMU's Bob Eccles' report can be heard here.

Community
4:08 am
Fri November 8, 2013

New Ordinance to Limit Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority TIF Capture Passes First Reading

Starting in 2016 Ann Arbor's Downtown Development Authority will likely have their ability to capture tax increment financing capped at a growth rate of 3.5% . 

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.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on a revised effort to limit tax increment financing captures by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority.

Community
4:04 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Ann Arbor to Begin Negotiations on Sale of YMCA Lot

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.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Ann Arbor City Council passing a resolution to negotiate the sale of the former YMCA property.

Community
3:59 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Ann Arbor City Council Says Goodbye to Long-time Member Higgins

Marcia Higgins
Credit Courtesy hvote4higgins.com

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.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Marcia Higgins final Ann Arbor City Council meeting.

Local News
3:17 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Lumm Re-Elected in Ann Arbor's Second Ward Council Race

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.

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Local News
3:14 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Briere Wins Re-Election to Ann Arbor First Ward City Council Seat

Voters in Ann Arbor's first ward have given Sabra Briere a fourth term on city council.  Briere claimed 66 percent of the vote to 32 percent for challenger Jeff Hayner yesterday. 

Briere says she thinks voters have appreciated her efforts to respond to their concerns.  Briere says she hopes voters also considered her communication efforts. 

Hayner says he believes just by running some of the issues he's been concerned about are getting discussed by city council.

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Local News
3:05 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Kunselman Wins In Ann Arbor's Third Ward

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.

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Local News
3:01 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Write-In Candidates Can't Stop Eaton, Anglin

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.

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Local News
10:34 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Local Election Results (Un-official)

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.

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