Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

City Council: Return of the Unposted Agenda

2. December 2007 • Juliew
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Monday, December 3 at 7:00 pm.
Ann Arbor City HallCity Council Agenda will be here if posted is now here in a new part of the web site.

Once again, the City Council Agenda has not been posted on the City’s website. So I have posted the agenda items for Monday’s meeting.

For the full agenda, click on “Read More.”

Organization of New Council
1. Appointment of Council Committees
2. Adoption of Council Rules

Public Hearings
PH-1 07-0270 An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55, Rezoning of 0.14 Acre from TWP (Township District) to R1D (Single-Family Dwelling District), Powell Property, West Side of Westover Avenue, North of Rhea Street (Ordinance No. ORD-07-48)

Consent Agenda
CA-1 07-0302 Resolution Authorizing Sanitary Sewer and Water Improvement Charges for 3891 Platt Road ($11,631.59)

CA-2 07-0474 Resolution to Authorize Renewal Agreement with Recycle Ann Arbor for Drop-off Station Operations ($20,000.00 for Two-Year Contract Renewal)

CA-3 07-0480 Resolution to Approve a Service Purchase Order with DTE Energy for Reimbursement of Costs to Relocate and Install a New Natural Gas Meter at the Wastewater Treatment Plant ($49,475.00)

CA-4 07-0635 Resolution to Authorize Two-Year Renewal Agreement with Washtenaw County, Pittsfield Township and Recycle Ann Arbor for Funding the Drop-off Station ($60,000.00 for Two Year Contract)

CA-5 07-0651 Resolution to Amend Previously Approved R-388-8-07 Resolution Authorizing Water Improvement Charges for 196 Orchard Hills Court ($8,578.22)

CA-6 07-0680 Resolution to approve an amendment to the agreement with Plante & Moran, PLLC for professional services ($54,500 Amendment/ 85,000 total contract)

Ordinance – Second Reading
B-1 07-0270 An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55, Rezoning of 0.14 Acre from TWP (Township District) to R1D (Single-Family Dwelling District), Powell Property, West Side of Westover Avenue, North of Rhea Street (Ordinance No. ORD-07-48)

Ordinance – First Reading
C-1 07-0347 Amendment to Chapter 55, Rezoning of 1.15 Acres from C2A (Central Business District) and C2B/R (Business/Service Residential District) to PUD (Planned Unit Development District), McKinley Towne Centre-Liberty Retail, 515 East Liberty Street (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 6 Yeas and 2 Nays)

C-2 07-0613 Amendment to Chapter 55, Rezoning of 0.46 Acre from TWP (Township District) to R1B (Single-Family Dwelling District), Bird Property, 213 Pineview Court (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 6 Yeas and 1 Nay).

C-3 07-0615 Amendment to Chapter 55, Rezoning of 0.58 Acre from TWP (Township District) to R1C (Single-Family Dwelling District), Dec Property, 135 Barton Drive (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 7 Yeas and 0 Nays).

C-4 07-0617 Amendment to Chapter 55, Rezoning of 1.88 Acres from TWP (Township District) to R1B (Single-Family Dwelling District), Delcamp Property, 3671 Riverside Drive (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 6 Yeas and 1 Nay).

C-5 07-0618 Amendment to Chapter 55, Rezoning of 0.99 Acre from TWP (Township District) to R1B (Single-Family Dwelling District), Ellis/Lawton Property, 2930 Glazier Way (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 6 Yeas and 1 Nay).

C-6 07-0621 Amendment to Chapter 55, Rezoning of 0.35 Acre from TWP (Township District) to R1B (Single-Family Dwelling District), Fagan/Foerster Property, 3081 Dover Place (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 6 Yeas and 1 Nay).

C-7 07-0624 Amendment to Chapter 55, Rezoning of 0.30 Acre from TWP (Township District) to R1B (Single-Family Dwelling District), Faylor Property, 580 Rock Creek Drive (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 6 Yeas and 1 Nay).

C-8 07-0626 Amendment to Chapter 55, Rezoning of 1.0 Acre from TWP (Township District) to R1B (Single-Family Dwelling District), Gadway Property, 310 Huntington Drive (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 6 Yeas and 1 Nay).

C-9 07-0629 Amendment to Chapter 55, Rezoning of 0.50 Acre from TWP (Township District) to R1B (Single-Family Dwelling District), Johnson Property, 192 Riverview Court (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 6 Yeas and 1 Nay).

C-10 07-0631 Amendment to Chapter 55, Rezoning of 0.39 Acre from TWP (Township District) to R1B (Single-Family Dwelling District), Sader/Goldstein Property, 448 Huntington Place (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 6 Yeas and 1 Nay).

C-11 07-0637 Amendment to Chapter 55, Rezoning of 1.18 Acres from TWP (Township District) to R1A (Single-Family Dwelling District), Schieb Property, 1400 Warrington Drive (CPC Recommendation: Approval – 7 Yeas and 0 Nays).

Motions and Resolutions

New Business – Council
DC-1 07-0807 Resolution Appointing Councilmember Chris Easthope to Greenbelt Advisory Commission
Sponsors: Greden and Higgins

New Business – Staff
DS-1 07-0681 Resolution to Approve a Purchase Order to Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) for the Geographic Information System (GIS) Annual Software Maintenance and License Agreement, the Purchase of 15 Additional Single Seat Licenses of ArcView ArcGIS, 5 Additional Concurrent Seat Licenses of ArcView and 5 concurrent Seat Licenses of ArcInfo for FY2008. ($105,358.13)

DS-2 07-0328 Resolution to Authorize the Purchase of LED Streetlight Conversion Fixtures from Lumecon ($460,000) Bid No. 3903 and to Accept Grant and Appropriate Funds from the Downtown Development Authority to support the Downtown Streetlight Retrofit Program ($630,000) (8 Votes Required)

DS-3 07-0354 Resolution to Amend the FY08 Parks & Recreation Services Budget and Appropriate Funds for Stormwater Educational Activities ($85,000.00) (8 Votes Required)

DS-4 07-0479 Resolution to Approve the Removal of No Parking Tuesday Signage on Martin Place from Cambridge to Wells

DS-5 07-0184 Wagner Road Improvements Project Special Assessment Resolution No. 2

Communications from City Administrator
F-1 07-0671 DDA Provides A $90,000 Grant to Avalon Housing in Support of Downtown Affordable Housing (Downtown Development Authority)

F-2 07-0672 DDA Revises Its Principles Guiding DDA Partnership Grant Decisions (Downtown Development Authority)

COMMUNITY TELEVISION NETWORK (CTN) CABLE CHANNEL 16:
LIVE: Monday, December 3, 2007, 7:00 p.m.
REPLAYS: Tuesday, December 4, 2007, 10:00 a.m.
Friday, December 7, 2007, 7:30 p.m.
REPLAYS SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE



  1. Turns out that the City is redoing their website (again) and changed the location of the City Council Agendas and Minutes without putting that information on the old page. The old and new pages now work. The new link can currently be found by going to the Services drop-down box in the lower left side of http://www.a2gov.org, and then choosing “Agendas and Minutes.” I assume that the agendas and minutes of all City boards and committees will eventually be in this spot. Currently it is just City Council.


       —Juliew    Dec. 3 '07 - 11:28PM    #
  2. More than the location has changed. The old agendas were in HTML with pdf documents for each item. Packets for previous meetings were retained on the system for some months, making it convenient to go back and pick up documents. Minutes were virtually unobtainable for months because of missing links to the search function.

    According to information on this new “Legislative Information Center”, minutes and agenda items will be instantly searchable eventually, but only meetings for October and November are currently listed. As stated, it will only be possible to search packets back to October 1, 2007, a loss because those packet items were helpful in doing research. Minutes are said to be searchable back to 1992.

    What one gets now is a pdf agenda with links to a pdf “master document” for each item. The master document lists action taken on the item. This is an improvement since minutes take a long time to get published and it was difficult from the packet to be sure of what status an item was in. From the master document it is possible to open up yet more pdf files relating to the packet item.

    Eventually this should prove to be a very transparent and convenient method of accessing information. I would hope that they now keep that information indefinitely. They’ve been deleting packets from past years.


       —Vivienne Armentrout    Dec. 4 '07 - 03:01PM    #
  3. They’ve got some bugs to work out. On the agenda item for the land purchase, most of the links are broken. I also was trying to look up some Greenbelt minutes on the main web site last night and was getting prompted for a username and password.


       —John Q.    Dec. 4 '07 - 05:15PM    #
  4. Much of what I found interesting about the meeting itself was in the Public Commentary both before and after.

    In the PC before the deliberations, a group of UM students, who had attended a Council Meeting in September as a part of a course assignment, spanked the Council as a group pretty soundly for engaging in small talk with each other or typing at their laptops during Public Commentary, thus creating the impression of not actually listening to citizens’ concerns.

    The other speaking turn at PC I thought was worth mentioning was Claire Tinkerhess’ expression of support for sustainable living through revising Ann Arbor’s ordinance that precludes the legal keeping of chickens within the city. Her comments before the meeting prompted someone to head down to Council Chambers to speak during the unreserved Public Commentary after the meeting, also weighing in for a change in the ordinance prohibiting chickens.

    Also announced at the meeting, as well as via a CTN crawler, was the switch in January of CTN channels to Comcast’s digital service, which will require those without digital TV sets to acquire a digital converter, which will be free for the first year.


       —HD    Dec. 4 '07 - 06:07PM    #
  5. HD, do you, like me, remember the days of Tom Richardson (and others) opening his mail during PC?

    As I came out of a meeting today at city hall I saw Channel 4’s Steve Garagiola interviewing Steve Kunselman and Planning Commission member Eric Lipson about “the chicken thing.” Watch for it this evening.

    I encouraged Steve (K.) to ask the Environmental Commission to weigh in on the issue, which is in line with our goal of Local Food Sufficiency, one of ten which council adopted.


       —Steve Bean    Dec. 4 '07 - 09:11PM    #
  6. And what about our local farmers who already supply us with eggs? Do you want them to go out of business? We have voted to use tax money for the preservation of agriculture. This defeats the purpose.

    In addition, lots in Ann Arbor are small, and I certainly don’t want the noise (cackling) of chickens nor the smell in my back yard. In addition, great amounts of energy will be required (probably electric) to keep the chickens warm in the winter. Does that fit in with being sustainable? Anyone who advocates such a thing knows little or nothing about farming.

    There is a reason that there is no agricultural zoning in cities.


       —Leah Gunn    Dec. 4 '07 - 11:45PM    #
  7. Um, hey Leah Gunn… are you envisioning space heaters in those backyard chicken coops? If so, I’m thinking that perhaps you’re the one who knows little or nothing about farming.


       —Tubby    Dec. 5 '07 - 12:23AM    #
  8. Chickens. The yolk’s on you. (Couldn’t resist.)


       —David Cahill    Dec. 5 '07 - 01:58AM    #
  9. This defeats the purpose.

    Far from it, Leah. The vast majority of food consumed here is from outside the county. How much? I don’t know. Maybe we should find out.

    We humans are the only ones lacking sufficient insulation, in the form of fur or feathers, to get through winter without fossil fuels. Animals (including humans) convert food into heat. If anything, chickens and goats could help people reduce their heating bills. (Yes, I said goats, too.) Check out what’s happening in Los Angeles and Pasadena. Many cities also allow/value work horses.


       —Steve Bean    Dec. 5 '07 - 04:29AM    #
  10. “There is a reason that there is no agricultural zoning in cities.”

    I’m not sure that it merits the label of ‘agricultural zoning’ but it is possible to legally keep chickens in many of our more progressive American cities.

    “And what about our local farmers who already supply us with eggs? Do you want them to go out of business”

    The specter of local egg farmers being put out of business as a result of people raising their own chickens is certainly an issue worth considering. However, I’m skeptical that allowing the raising of backyard chickens would result in the kind of egg surplus that would be required to have a detrimental impact on local egg farmers. I think the initial impact would be to make legal the chickens already living in our midst … largely unnoticed.

    To the extent that backyard chicken keepers would be able to openly circulate their eggs, the increased exposure of the public to the enhanced taste sensation of fresh eggs—via sampling from their neighbors—would likely increase the demand for fresh eggs overall, hence representing an financial boon for egg farmers.

    So, Leah, I’d encourage you to reconsider where you stand here. Given that the Kunselman story quickly was picked up by the wires and resulted in a piece by the Detroit papers, I would say there’s a fair amount of national interest in the topic. At least some of that interest I would think is simply out of prurient curiosity (I’ve found it on the web in places categorized as ‘weird’ news), but surely not all of that national interest stems from the story as an oddity.

    I know of one confirmed case of a home buyer here in Ann Arbor selecting a real estate agent from myriad alternatives based on that agent’s online comments favorable to the notion of backyard chickens.

    There’s no reason why legal backyard chickens in Ann Arbor couldn’t be a reality by spring time. Important for Ann Arbor? Well, on a scale of importance, it’s not as important as many other things. Affordable housing is an easy example. Still, I would contend that executing on an ordinance that allows backyard chickens should be one of our priorities — because it’s something easily doable. So let’s cross it off the list … as done. We wouldn’t be re-inventing the wheel here; we’d be following the examples of ordinances in places like Seattle and Brooklyn.


       —HD    Dec. 5 '07 - 05:37AM    #
  11. We have had illegal chickens here on Broadway. One of the neighbors panicked because he thought they might be bird flu carriers.


       —David Cahill    Dec. 5 '07 - 03:31PM    #
  12. I wondered about that “fresh eggs” sign—I tried calling to ask about them once and never got a response….

    (I’m all for urban chickens. And goats!)


       —Bruce Fields    Dec. 5 '07 - 04:32PM    #
  13. FWIW, according to the New York Health Department, the severe scary strain of bird flu has not yet been observed in the US.


       —Vivienne Armentrout    Dec. 5 '07 - 05:02PM    #
  14. Personally I think it would be just fine if the city allows chickens, even if I think they would be a nuisance if my neighbor owned them. I also do not think a few chickens in the city will swing the marketplace at all; local farmers would not feel a thing. As if my backyard garden is putting a farmer out of business or my herb garden causing a stir in the commodities market. Should these be banned?

    What does strike me is the amazingly inaccurate line:

    We humans are the only ones lacking sufficient insulation, in the form of fur or feathers, to get through winter without fossil fuels.

    Mr. Bean, did you think about this, at all, before you got on your high horse. Many animals migrate seasonally to modulate the temperatures they are exposed to during the year; they don’t rely on their insulation. Many of those cute birds you saw in the summer are now making their way to Florida or the Caribbean because they would die if they stayed here. I am not saying that chickens couldn’t live here all winter long without a ‘space heater’; I have no idea. But clearly your line above sheds no light on the subject.


       —abc    Dec. 5 '07 - 05:17PM    #
  15. The website, backyardchickens.com has answers to many of your questions and even a free chicken ringtone. Some cute chicken coop designs, too.

    Apparently it is not necessary to heat chicken coops in the winter, or a single lightbulb will be enough in extreme conditions. But chicks need warm temperatures and an incubator.


       —Vivienne Armentrout    Dec. 5 '07 - 08:24PM    #
  16. Birds that spend summers here migrate for food (though many don’t), not temperature considerations (or breeding requirements, for that matter), is my understanding. Many mammals hibernate, again because of limitations of food sources or, more specifically, energy tradeoffs, not temperature per se. FYI, I studied ecology and environmental policy at the School of Natural Resources, so I’m not making this up as I go along.

    I’m open to suggestions as to how to not (appear to) be condescending or patronizing (or whatever it means to you to be on a “high horse”, abc.)


       —Steve Bean    Dec. 6 '07 - 01:37AM    #
  17. We humans are the only ones lacking sufficient insulation, in the form of fur or feathers, to get through winter without fossil fuels.

    Those dots aren’t connected. If I had to, for whatever reason, be in Florida every winter and also be in Michigan every summer, should you say that I have “sufficient insulation, in the form of fur or feathers, to get through winter without fossil fuels. Answer No. The real answer is that if I have to be in Florida for food, work, fun or whatever, I benefit from the heat and do not need to develop the ability to withstand 20 degrees all winter long. That is very very different from saying that “humans are the only ones lacking sufficient insulation, in the form of fur or feathers, to get through winter without fossil fuels”.

    If a heron stayed in northern Alaska through winter their legs might just break off at 20 degrees below zero. But conveniently they don’t need to develop the ability to winter without fossil fuels because they ‘need’ to leave to get food elsewhere. (But if it was not for the food they would be happy to stay.) I have to be a bit disappointed with the School of Natural Resources for not stressing basic logic. All of those animals that migrate for ‘food’ benefit from the fact that there body type now does not have to have enough??insulation?? to protect them from the harsh winter. Those animals, just like humans, have evolved to survive within the environment with the tools and habits they have developed. To characterize it as “lacking of sufficient” is just wrong and represents a misunderstanding of evolution.


       —abc    Dec. 6 '07 - 03:39AM    #
  18. To characterize it as “lacking of sufficient” is just wrong and represents a misunderstanding of evolution.

    Or maybe it was just a poor choice of words. In any case, I hope that you and your horse can forgive me and mine. :-)


       —Steve Bean    Dec. 6 '07 - 03:35PM    #
  19. For what it’s worth, the FRESH EGGS on Broadway aren’t from ILLEGAL CHICKENS on Broadway. Those chickens live happily on a farm outside Ann Arbor — their ‘grandparents’ live on Broadway. Keep calling — the eggs are really good, and often double yolked. (And please, David, no more egg jokes!)


       —Sabra Briere    Dec. 6 '07 - 11:14PM    #
  20. Egg-zactly!


       —David Cahill    Dec. 7 '07 - 02:03AM    #
  21. I’ve recently been able to hang around some illegal backyard chickens who were moved to a legal country setting. They had a very quiet pleasant murmur, not a bit of smell, and apparently when they were in the city used to take the occasional excursion (on their own)to a nearby city park. The rumors of raucous clucking seems like a myth.

    I pay $3.50 a dozen to a local township chicken farmer, and she can’t keep up with demand for her eggs. The taste difference is amazing. I LOVE these organically grown eggs from happy well cared for hens.

    It has been my understanding that Ann Arbor already allows two beehives per house. Another agricultural venture of benefit to everyone. And urban honey (lots of trees and exotic flowers) is my favorite. As long as you locate the hives so no one will be in the flight path of the bees (basically 6-10 feet in front of the hive opening) they can exist very well in a small backyard.

    We need more awareness and control of our food and where it comes from. There are very few people who will end up wanting the responsibility for chickens, but I would be happy to support those who want to take that step. The fact that there is already a growing number of underground backyard chickens indicates that the interest is there.

    And I hope that more people will be raising bees as well.

    It is an experiment that has gone well in other cities, I welcome Ann Arbor allowing chickens in our backyards.


       —Linda Diane Feldt    Dec. 10 '07 - 12:34AM    #