Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

City Council: To PUD or Not to PUD

7. January 2008 • Juliew
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Monday, January 7 at 7:00 pm.
Ann Arbor City HallCity Council Agenda

Highlights:

  • McKinley Towne Centre-Liberty Retail PUD request

  • McKinley Towne Centre-Liberty Retail PUD Site Plan and Development Agreement
  • Wagner Road Improvement Special Assessment Project
  • Approval of Professional Services Agreement with Winter & Company for the Ann Arbor Discovering Downtown (A2D2) Historic Preservation and Design Guidelines Projects
  • Approval of Partnership Agreement with Community Action Network for Operation of Bryant and Northside Community Centers
  • Everyday Wine liquor license decision(?)


  1. The McKinley request for PUD is likely to generate a lot of discussion. The latest trend seems to be to make every proposal into a PUD, even if it could be built under existing zoning. The Mayor has been particularly opposed to this tactic so it will be interesting to see how the vote goes on the PUD rezoning.

    The McKinley development proposal is for the “Liberty Square” (formerly Tally Hall) building and will include demolishing the former bank building on that site and building a three-story building between Orchid Lane and the parking deck stairwell. I don’t think anyone is sad to see the bank building go, but the major concern is the alley that currently runs between Liberty and Washington. The Planning Commission requested that a pedestrian alley of at least ten feet be retained and McKinley has incorporated that in the new design, but that does not address everyone’s concerns. I will try to post a document I received on that as soon as I can get it working.

    Another item of interest is the potential liquor license approval for Everyday Cook. There have been a lot of e-mails about this asking people to show up tomorrow to provide support for Everyday Cook, but it is not on the agenda so it is hard to say what will happen tomorrow.


       —Juliew    Jan. 7 '08 - 01:29AM    #
  2. There was a planning commission meeting (the lower burns park one) where a dispute was over vacating an alley at Maple and Jackson – at least one person on that board was generally opposed to taking alleys away from the public and handing them over to private individuals.


       —Edward Vielmetti    Jan. 7 '08 - 05:34AM    #
  3. I was at caucus last night. Prior to caucus Rapundalo told Mary Campbell of Everyday Cook that the license would be on the Jan 22 agenda. It needed more attorney review and the city attorney in charge was on vacation so it had to be delayed.

    The McKinley PUD for Liberty is very interesting. At caucus McKinley announced they had made changes to the drawings presented at planning commission but did not have any drawings and would try to have something on Monday. I think the result was that McKinley would not develop the alley. I guess the public hearing will be on a moving target. Kunselman asked about tabling action to allow time to review the revised drawings. If he got an answer, I did not hear it.

    A number of people spoke about the potential for the alley to be developed into a public arcade. Several thought it should go back to planning commission for pubic input on this option. A PUD requires a public benefit, and it’s unclear what the public benefit of the current proposal is.

    I think the real rub was the number of votes it takes to approve the plan McKinley presented to planning commission and which is included in the council packet. The alley is owned by the city and it takes 8 votes to transfer ownership of the alley, compared with 6 votes to approve the PUD. The city staff report that went to planning commission failed to mention that approval of the PUD would also require the city to transfer land. In other words, McKinley was proposing a project that encroached on public land and the staff report failed to mention the problem. Council members found out about it from citizens who opposed closing off all or part of the alley.


       —karen sidney    Jan. 7 '08 - 04:20PM    #
  4. I would like to call attention to F-2 of the Council agenda. This reduces the yard waste collection service by:

    Elimination of cans: Effective April 1st, 2008, resident-supplied cans will no longer
    be allowed for compost collection.

    End collection on October 31st: Starting in 2008, it is proposed that curbside
    compost collection end one month earlier, on October 31st.

    F-2 states that this will take effect next spring without any discussion or public hearing unless Council acts.


       —G. Thompson    Jan. 7 '08 - 06:43PM    #
  5. Julie: I don’t think it is PUD’s the mayor objects to but instead it is Planned Projects because they are not Planned Unit Developments. Under Planned Project status developers get a zoning change but they don’t have to offer the public benefits of a PUD, parks contribution, affordable housing (in residential projects only of course), etc. It’s like a PUD on the cheap.


       —LauraB    Jan. 7 '08 - 06:53PM    #
  6. Ah, good catch LauraB. Thanks for clarifying.


       —Juliew    Jan. 7 '08 - 08:22PM    #
  7. Council approved the McKinley Towne Centre last night, but it did not go along with Roger Fraser’s attempt to cut compostable services.

    Fraser said the proposed change was “just administrative”, but Mayor Pro Tem Marcia Higgins said the change was “substantive”, and asked that the proposal be brought back in the form of an ordinance so that Council could discuss it. She was supported by Stephen Rapundalo. Fraser agreed to do this.

    Fraser has tried to cut the compostable pickup for the past several years, but he has always done this as part of the annual City budget in the spring. Council has repeatedly shot him down.

    It looks like this latest try to cut services will also crash and burn.


       —David Cahill    Jan. 8 '08 - 03:17PM    #
  8. Re Lowenstein

    A couple of questions — why is the Michigan Daily in quotes (because it doesn’t come out on weekends?)?

    Second, how many cases would a local judge handle that even remotely relate to the Middle East? I would think something close to none.


       —PeteM    Jan. 10 '08 - 02:23PM    #
  9. I don’t know, why don’t you tell us?


       —John Q.    Jan. 10 '08 - 06:34PM    #
  10. I am so grateful to our city council for blocking or at least postponing the compostable pickups cutback.

    Last fall it was necessary to extend the pickups past Dec.1. This was because the season was so late, with leaves still coming down toward the end of the month. Some streets like E. Stadium are not allowed to shove leaves into the street but must bag them.

    As it happened, we got hit with snow by Thanksgiving and I never got my yard cleaned up. But with our warmer weather, November is a seriously important month for yard cleanup. Even if you compost (which I do), branches and other coarse materials need to be disposed of. Composting is not practical or desirable (as an activity) for everyone.

    Having the city pick up compostables makes sense in several ways. We have a compost center that actually sells our municipal compost, so that our refuse is recycled into a beneficial product. We no longer send these materials to a landfill. And it is a basic service for a liveable city. Even small lots produce compostables and their disposal should be part of our solid waste services that our millage pays for.

    I don’t know what the rationale was to cut back these pickups, but reason doesn’t support it. I’m glad the council put the brakes on.


       —Vivienne Armentrout    Jan. 10 '08 - 09:28PM    #
  11. Some websites place a “Message removed by moderator.”-marker in place of the removed post when removal is found necessary. Such a practice helps to foster continuity in the thread, as confused readers are not left to wonder what the responses to the missing posts are all about. (Posts #8 and #9 are examples.)

    A visible indication showing that such a deletion had occurred would also serve to preempt Orwellian theories from those that choose to occupy their minds with that sort of thing…


       —Michael Schils    Jan. 11 '08 - 01:09AM    #
  12. To PeteM and John Q: As an attorney who has regularly been in courtrooms in Dearborn and Detroit for close to 20 years I can say that issues involving Arab and Israeli nationals take up a substantial percentage of those court’s dockets and to a lesser extent other courts in Metro Detroit not to mention issues of trade, language and culture of persons with a Middle Eastern background as well as local judges who have ties to the Arabic-American and Jewish-American communities. For instance, Arabic and Chaldean interpreters are commonplace in local courts. Further, many of the high-profile criminal cases,especially in the federal court system, involve Middle East connections to often intertwining allegations of drug trafficking, money laundering and/or terrorism with the defendants often claiming an unfair bias of the law enforcement community against them; one recent example was the series of cases involving the controversial now former Assistant United States Attorney Richard Convertino and a second being the prosecution of LaShish restauranteur Talal Chahine and his relatives. On a different note, Judges often are requested in family law cases to appoint counselors and psychological evaluators who have a familiarity with Arabic or Islamic culture; most believe that a judge should take this into consideration as a factor in making appointments in such cases. There is also the issue of political clout of the Arab-American community in jurisdictions where they constitute a substantial percentage of the population. in Dearborn, for example Richard Wygonik won a narrow election victory for district judge that was largely credited to endorsements and support from various Arab-American factions including the Yemeni-American Political Action Committee. Conversely, there have been a number Jewish-American judges in Metro Detroit who won respect in the Arab-American community; one is Edward Sosnick of Oakland County Circuit Court who has attended some Arab-American Bar Association events. Based upon her behavior as a councilperson, there have been concerns raised by certain local residents whether or not Joan Lowenstein will administer court proceedings in a consistent and fair manner. If she intends to register as a candidate and does not do anything to allay these concerns, the she can rest assured that those local members of the Arabic and Moslem communities, as well as those allied with those interests will be vigorously supporting an alternate candidate. Look at a2buzz.org to see what Harvard Law alumna Patricia Gravel-Henkel did to embarrass Judge Timothy Connors in 2006 on Election Day, garnering hundreds of write-in votes to oppose Connors’ re-election bid due to his alleged bias and intemperate behavior.


       —Mark Koroi    Jan. 11 '08 - 01:20AM    #
  13. I’ll gladly let my post get removed RE: post 11. I was being a smart aleck to Blaine.


       —Thomas Cook    Jan. 11 '08 - 05:17AM    #
  14. I agree with Michael Schils: removal of many postings can make a thread unnecessarily confusing. I, too, would prefer some kind of notation of “message removed by moderator”. If many consecutive posts had to be deleted, something like “38 messages removed by moderator”.

    I’m not contesting that deletions are sometimes justified. It’s just that this thread suddenly became unrecognizable, with some messages left stranded out of context.


       —Larry Kestenbaum    Jan. 11 '08 - 04:19PM    #
  15. “I, too, would prefer some kind of notation of “message removed by moderator”. If many consecutive posts had to be deleted, something like “38 messages removed by moderator”.”

    Yeah, those are reasonable requests. I’ll see what I can do. (But I might not get around to it till this weekend if noone else beats me to it.)


       —Bruce Fields    Jan. 11 '08 - 06:48PM    #
  16. For those of you interested in the Everyday Cook liquor license, there is a PAC hearing on the appropriateness of a liquor license for Leslie golf course on Tues, Jan 15, 2008. PAC meets at 4:00 pm in council chambers. The competition for the license is between the city and Everyday Cook.


       —karen sidney    Jan. 11 '08 - 11:20PM    #
  17. From the Golf Report released in early December:

    “The Courses are operating without a liquor license, which would be a primary draw for leagues and outings. Ann Arbor’s golf courses are the only golf facilities in Washtenaw County without a liquor license.”

    The proprietor of Everyday Cook spoke at Public Commentary at two successive meetings back at the end of the year, and chronicled her experience with City inspections of her kitchen. I don’t recall the exact details, but I recall thinking at the time that it seemed like she’d been treated somewhat shabbily. She was, of course, telling her own side, but pretty well documented every claim she made.

    The proprietor of a Japanese/French restaurant, which name I did not catch, also made a pitch for a liquor license at the Council meeting this past week.


       —HD    Jan. 11 '08 - 11:55PM    #
  18. re: post 15, I just want to publicly thank Bruce for all the work he puts into making this site run smoothly! My intermittent commenting and posting wouldn’t be possible without his regular code-mongering.

    Thank you.


       —Chuck W.    Jan. 12 '08 - 01:28AM    #
  19. Thanks, Chuck! But the last real coding I did was for the comment bar a couple years ago, and anything else has been quick tweaks here and there….

    And after a brief look I’m not seeing a lazy way to insert those “post deleted here” markers. So for now I’m just hoping people can bear with us this once—if it starts happening a lot I’ll take another look.

    (Do keep passing along any technical complaints or wishlist items, though—I may get to them eventually….)


       —Bruce Fields    Jan. 13 '08 - 11:11PM    #
  20. “... there is a PAC hearing on the appropriateness of a liquor license for Leslie golf course on Tues, Jan 15, 2008.”

    At that meeting, a resolution was passed (unanimously, it appeared to me) recommending that Council approve the liquor license for Leslie.

    Included in the resolution was a Whereas clause to the effect that liquor is already allowed in Parks (on a special permit basis).


       —HD    Jan. 18 '08 - 03:48AM    #
  21. The Ann Arbor City code explicitly prohibits liquor in public parks. Chapter 39 section 3.2 states: “While in a park, no person shall:
    (1) Consume any alcoholic liquor.

    Beer and wine only are allowed in some areas. It is not clear if a permit is required for any beer and wine consumption, or only for consumption in otherwise prohibited areas. This presently applies to Leslie Golf course.

    Sam Offen made the incorrect statement that liquor is presently allowed in the parks. I do not know if it was also included in the resolution.


       —G. Thompson    Jan. 18 '08 - 05:48PM    #
  22. To clarify, permits for consumption of beer and wine were apparently instituted in 2006. The parks rental policies indicate that residents may pay $12 to consume beer and wine, presumably in connection with a facility rental.


       —Vivienne Armentrout    Jan. 18 '08 - 07:57PM    #
  23. The 2006 date is probably for that particular fee schedule—I helped plan some departmental picnics in city parks in the 90’s and remember similar alcohol permit fees then.


       —Bruce Fields    Jan. 18 '08 - 08:20PM    #
  24. The ordinance appears to date from 1982; last revised in 2005.

    My interpretation of the ordinance is that beer and wine are allowed in most areas, with out a permit, unless prohibited by the posting of other rules. It is the parks department rules that prevent having a beer after a round of golf, not the city ordinance.

    The issue is not having a beer after golf. It is whether the city should be in the business of selling hard liquor by the glass.


       —G. Thompson    Jan. 19 '08 - 12:29AM    #
  25. The golf report says the city courses are the only ones in Washtenaw county without a liquor license. I don’t golf but I’ve been told by several golfers that the U of M golf course does not have a liquor license.


       —karen sidney    Jan. 19 '08 - 12:37AM    #
  26. It seems odd to me that a local small business has to compete with the city for a liquor license. Don’t we want to encourage small business to thrive in our city? If so, then why make it so difficult for them to get a leg up.

    Everyday Cook works with many charities to organize fund-raising events. They have even said that a percentage of each glass of wine sold (I think it is 50 cents) will go to Food Gatherers. For this reason alone, I can’t see where selling beer on the golf course (to those who can afford to go golfing) can be compared to making it easier for a local business to help charities with their fund rasing.

    Also, Everyday Cook offers training classes and even works with Washtenaw Community College to teach some of their continuing education classes.

    This is a classy operation, over at Everyday Cook. Let us throw our support behind them in this lopsided battle for the last remaining liquor license in the city.


       —RS    Jan. 28 '08 - 10:05PM    #