Local Government

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.


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.


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.


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:
 

Courtesy photo / AAConnector.org

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. 

Last Week's Election Results to be Certified Soon

Nov 12, 2013

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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

Kunselman Wins In Ann Arbor's Third Ward

Nov 6, 2013

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.

Write-In Candidates Can't Stop Eaton, Anglin

Nov 6, 2013

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.

Local Election Results (Un-official)

Nov 5, 2013

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.

Ann Arbor will look to sell the former YMCA lot to Dennis Dahlmann who made a $5.25 million offer for the property. 

City Council will consider a resolution Thursday to have the city administrator negotiate with the owner of the Campus Inn and Bell Tower Hotel.  Dahlmann's proposal for the site includes a development that wouldn't maximize what's possible for D-1 zoning. 

One Ann Arbor city council member says it's time to change the law so that the city can crack down on smoking in public areas legally designated as no-smoking zones. 

WEMU's Bob Eccles has the story:


Lumecon LLC

The future of streetlights in downtown Ann Arbor is up in the air after City Council this week voted down a proposal to replace half of them.  

As WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports, the streetlights issue is part of ongoing funding issues between city council and the Downtown Development Authority. 


Ann Arbor City Council has, once again, delayed an ordinance amendment that would limit the tax increment financing revenue the Downtown Development Authority may collect.

As WEMU's Andrew Cluley Reports, the  council also took another vote on a controversial appointment to the DDA board.


Facebook/TheRide

Ann Arbor City Council on Monday night postponed a vote on amending the articles of incorporation of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority to include Ypsilanti Township.

As WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports, council voted eight to three last night to delay a decision until the second meeting in November.


Deadline for Ann Arbor 'Y' Lot Offers is Friday

Oct 14, 2013

The city of Ann Arbor hopes to sell the "Y" lot and avoid a big payment that would come due in December if it doesn't. WEMU's Bob Eccles has the story.


The city of Ann Arbor is hiring a consultant to assess the way it provides services to residents. WEMU's Bob Eccles has more.


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