Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

City Council: Administration

15. June 2008 • Juliew
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Monday, June 16 at 7:00 pm.
Ann Arbor City HallAgenda

There are a few items of interest on this agenda, although much of it is administrative issues and contract renewals (not that those aren’t fascinating, but perhaps not as attention-grabbing as, say, a 27-story building proposal or chickens).

Highlights:

  • North Sky Zoning changes (at one point, this project had a web site, but it no longer seems to exist)
  • Proposal to allow grass clippings in compost
  • Resolution to approve an agreement with Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission for the purchase of properties owned by Biltmore Company in Superior Township
  • Resolution to Amend Ann Arbor City Budget for Fiscal Year 2007-2008
  • Administrative issues and contract renewals



  1. One reflection of the non-fascinating character of tomorrow’s agenda was the light attendance at caucus tonight. CM Briere and CM Anglin were the only two there.

    Conversation focused on the criteria and evidence that might bear on the question of keeping or scrapping the neighbor veto provision of the chicken ordinance when it comes before Council for review a year from now as mandated by the ordinance that was passed. (When you’re the only member of the public in attendance, it’s easy to monopolize the conversation.) I contended that in order to accumulate the kind of evidence that could potentially warrant the scrapping of the provision, we would need at least one test case where chickens were permitted over the neighbors’ wishes. Depending on how that test case developed, we’d either have evidence for or against scrapping it or not. I volunteered to be a test case, based in part on Mayor Hieftje’s idea mentioned during deliberations at last meeting that we could have a system whereby we had a limited number of permits w/o neighbor permission, say 5 per ward.

    CM Briere suggested that anonymously surveying all neighbors who had signed permissions could also hypothetically yield the kind of evidence sought, namely, neighbors who were initially doubtful, who signed only reluctantly under peer pressure, and who came to discover it wasn’t so bad. CM Briere felt that the re-instatement of an animal control officer would be a necessary condition for scrapping the neighbor veto.

    Conversation also included the idea of resuscitating a granny flat ordinance and whether it would be tantamount to ‘stealth rezoning’ from R-1 to R-2.

    Also, it’s worth mentioning that CM Briere brought homemade chocolate confections and shared them around. They were different, but no less tasty than the chocolate confections she brought to the previous caucus meeting.


       —HD    Jun. 16 '08 - 01:22AM    #
  2. When did we loose the animal control officer?


       —Matt    Jun. 16 '08 - 01:49PM    #
  3. I think everything on the agenda passed unanimously. It was a short meeting.

    The most interesting thing was when the Mayor talked about the new LED streetlights, which were showcased to a group of visitors last week. Seems that we are the leaders in streetlight technology these days. So the new streetlights can all be coordinated from a central location. They can be dimmed to 50% power (with 70% of the light) or to 11% power (which still gives a decent glow). This feature can be time activated so they might be at full power from dark to midnight, then 70% from midnight to 2:00am, then 11% from 2:00am to dawn. They can be set to be motion-activated (at a number of strengths) so that parking lots and other areas that do not need to be lit at all times could go dark until the light is needed. They can also be synched to the emergency response system so if you call 911, it would activate the light closest to the call so that emergency personnel could get there more quickly than by reading house numbers. Eventually they said people will be able to pay a small fee to the city to get a key-fob type device which would cause the street lights around you to blink in case of emergency (shades of Harry Potter!). All very cool and not something that you might think streetlights could do.


       —Juliew    Jun. 17 '08 - 02:31PM    #
  4. A fair number of streetlights already go off when I walk by them. Don’t know what causes that, but I certainly don’t need a clicker!

    The 911 idea is excellent, though.


       —Matt    Jun. 17 '08 - 03:58PM    #
  5. Can the streetlights be individually controlled, so that they blink on and off in coordinated patterns visible from the sky? Now that would be cool.


       —Edward Vielmetti    Jun. 18 '08 - 03:48PM    #
  6. Ed – they have little “hats” on them so the light is directed downwards, thus eliminating some of the light pollution.


       —Leah Gunn    Jun. 18 '08 - 04:11PM    #
  7. I believe giving neighbors veto power without objective criteria for the veto or some kind of standard of proof for the objective criteria opens the door to all kinds of potential for abuses of the system. There could be situations where neighbors, acting out of unrelated spite, may try to torpedo another neighbor’s desire for a chicken. The proposed ordinance needs a test case.


       —Kerry D.    Jul. 5 '08 - 08:55PM    #