Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Democrats Debate Downtown Development

13. March 2006 • Brandon
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Highlights from the Ann Arbor News’ coverage of yesterday’s local Democratic Party meeting:

County Commissioner Conan Smith’s downtown development moratorium failed:

Downtown development has been the hot button issue in the city for almost two years. On Saturday, heated discussions broke out on the subject with many people talking over each other and others being told they were out of order.

By the end, Smith had backed down from the request for a moratorium. He was questioned by Roger Hewitt of the Downtown Development Authority about projecting an inconsistent message.

Hewitt read from a press release Smith issued in his job as executive director of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, a group that works with cities to simplify the development process. The press release praised cities for development. Hewitt wanted to know why Smith was calling for a moratorium in Ann Arbor while praising development elsewhere.

Smith said the other cities had worked for two years on a development policy before going through with development.

Eventually, Smith agreed to revise the resolution to call for the City Council to create a “values statement’’ that would outline guidelines for development. A vote on that version was postponed until the April meeting.

Rumors about pro-”full-scale” greenway/anti-parking structure activists running for office have proven true, moreover:

Sonia Schmerl, co-chairwoman of the group Friends of the Ann Arbor Greenway, said she is seriously considering running in a primary against incumbent Democrat Chris Easthope in the 5th Ward.
This is in spite of the infamous Easthope-Johnson resolution.

Meanwhile, the Dems shifted their focus back to the most urgent and “progressive” issues for local government to grapple with, such as unisex restrooms and President Bush.



  1. How about a recap of the regionalism panel? I shamefully missed it.


       —Dale    Mar. 13 '06 - 04:21AM    #
  2. Not bad. I didn’t take notes or anything, but pretty well-attended and a variety of points made.


       —Brandon    Mar. 13 '06 - 05:25AM    #
  3. Actually, the unisex bathroom stuff wasn’t raised at the meeting. It came from a conversation Tim Colenback had with Tom Gantert six months ago. Go figure.


       —David Cahill    Mar. 13 '06 - 11:41PM    #