The Great Lakes Environmental Law Center may file suit against the City of Ann Arbor to stop construction of the proposed underground parking structure on South Fifth Ave. A letter from Prof. Noah Hall, Ann Arbor resident and executive director of the Center, identifies potential grounds for a challenge:
- The proposed parking structure may violate the Michigan Environmental Protection Act (MEPA) – “The construction and operation of the proposed new parking structure and the additional [vehicle miles traveled] that it will cause are “likely to pollute, impair, or destroy” the environment, and thus are not lawful under the MEPA unless “there is no feasible and prudent alternative.” The City of Ann Arbor has numerous feasible and prudent alternatives to the proposed new parking structure . . . detailed by Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates in the Ann Arbor Downtown Parking Study ”
- The City Council may have violated the Open Meetings Act by conducting private e-mail conversation during a meeting in parallel to the open discussion of the issue – “During the City Council meeting on February 17, 2009 at which the proposed new
parking structure and bonding was approved, several City Council members exchanged numerous email messages discussing whether they supported postponement and why other City Council members supported or opposed postponement. . . . This electronic discussion was made during the public portion of the City Council’s meeting, potentially violating the Michigan Open Meetings Act.”
- These e-mails were not produced during a Freedom of Information Act request by the Center for, “all e-mail communications and other records made by
City Council members before, during, and after” the Council meeting. “It was only through a subsequent Freedom of Information Act request for documents not related to the proposed parking structure that the City Council members’ email messages and discussion regarding postponement were discovered.”
Additional information is available via the Ann Arbor News and Ann Arbor Chronicle. The Chronicle additionally has the full text of Hall’s letter (pdf), from which I’ve excerpted above, and notes that Hall has loaned them ~1,000 pages of documents produced in the FOIA requests, which the Chronicle hopes to have scanned and posted soon.
Some discussion has been provided on AU already, on the 2009 City Council Elections thread. On the Chronicle article, AU reader (and attorney) David Cahill provides the opinion that Hall’s letter “is not marred by the citation of any legal cases supporting his claim,” as well as opining that such a suit would be “frivolous”, and lead to a slippery slope allowing any construction whatsoever to be blocked by similar arguments.
For the second year in a row Ann Arbor will be observing Earth Hour.
Earth Hour happens on Saturday, March 28th, 2009 between 8:30-9:30pm.
More information and a flyer on this international observation are posted here.
Started in Australian in 2007 to increase awareness on saving energy by simply turning off lights for an hour, the concept swept around the world. Find out more and take the lights-out pledge at www.earthhour.org.
What will you be doing for Earth Hour?
Last Friday (during Green Fair , of course). The City unveiled some new green trashcans downtown. I’ve seen one in the Kerrytown area and one on the corner of Liberty and Main Street.
These trash cans are special because they have two sections: one for trash and one for bottles and cans. This allows for more of those items to be recycled.
I couldn’t find out much more about these new “green” green trash cans, but I wouldn’t be surprised if more information surfaces shortly.
The University and the Ann Arbor Public Schools are sponsoring a free joint home electronics recycling event tomorrow, Saturday, May 10. This is open to the public and everyone is encouraged to bring their old electronic devices. There is a long list of accepted items from TVs to cell phones and even cables. Check your attics, basements, and storage lockers for any out-of-date electronic equipment and bring it on down.
The equipment is all shredded and recycled. Nothing is resold or shipped out of the country or dumped, so it is a great opportunity to recycle in an actually environmentally friendly way. Plus it is free!
Note: This is only Saturday (May 10) from 9:00am – 2:00pm so don’t be late!
Pioneer High School Parking Lot (Main Street Entrance)
610 West Stadium Boulevard, Ann Arbor, MI
For more information, see the Climate Savers web site.
The City of Ann Arbor is going to be observing “Earth Hour” tonight from 8:00pm to 9:00pm.
The City of Ann Arbor encourages residents and businesses to voluntarily observe a nation-wide “Earth Hour” and turn off unnecessary lights on Saturday evening, March 29 from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Participating residents and businesses may officially sign up for this effort at the www.earthhour.org web site to pledge to turn off lights for one hour between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Saturday evening and to locate additional energy conservation tips.
For more information on the City’s Earth Hour effort, see the city’s web site.
The boil water notice issued on March 22, 2008 for certain areas of the City of Ann Arbor is no longer in effect. The test results have shown that the water is safe. The residents in the affected area do not need to boil their water anymore.
March 22, 2008
The City of Ann Arbor had a water main break that depressurized a part of the distribution system. The City has issued a precautionary boil water notice for certain areas of the City.
The affected area is South of Stadium between Packard and Washtenaw, South of Washtenaw between Stadium and Manchester, East of Packard between Stadium and Colony, West of County Farm Park and West of Buhr Park. Additionally, Overridge East of Glenwood/Bedford.
As a precautionary measure, all residents in the affected area are advised to boil water that they will use for drinking or cooking. The water should be boiled for at least five minutes and allowed to cool in a covered container. Bottled water may be used as an alternative to boiling.
The City advises the residents to continue to use boiled or bottled water until further notice. Tests of the water have begun and results will be available within 48 hours. The boil water advisory will be lifted when safe results have been obtained from the tests.
Residents may use the water for showering, flushing toilets, and doing laundry. If using the dishwasher, use the heated cycle. If hand washing dishes, use hot water.
This is a precautionary advisory only. There is no indication that there was any contamination. Residents may call (734)994-2840 with questions.
From a press release on the city web site and other e-mail:
The much discussed University Village is a proposed 421-unit residential and retail “green” urban mixed-use development on 1.61 acres at the corner of South University and South Forest Avenues (where the Village Corner and Bagel Factory are currently).
University Village Town Hall Meeting, Wednesday March 5
The University Village-Ann Arbor LLC development team, led by Ronald Hughes and Daniel Ketelaar, will be hosting a Town Hall Meeting to present and discuss all aspects of the project on Wednesday, March 5 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the MITC Conference Center, 1000 Oakbrook Drive, Ann Arbor (behind Howard Cooper off State Street, just north of Eisenhower). Reservations are not necessary. Refreshments will be served. Please direct inquiries to spokeswoman Tracy Koe Wick at tracy.wick at kirkwoodgroup dot com.
University Village Brownfield Community Forum, Thursday March 6
A public meeting will be held on Thursday, March 6 from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Burns Park Elementary School auditorium (1414 Wells Street, Ann Arbor). The purpose of the meeting is to explain and discuss the brownfield component of the University Village site plan. The project developers will explain environmental challenges posed by the site, remediation, proposed tax capture, and other topics specific to brownfield activities on this site, and answer questions about the preliminary brownfield proposal.Public input is desired on the brownfield component before an application is submitted to the Washtenaw County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. For more information, please call Jill Thacher, City Planner, at 734.994.2797.
March 3, 2008
Bach Elementary School Cafeteria
The fifth in a series of public workshops concerning stormwater management in Allen’s Creek will be this Monday, March 3.
During the workshop, five possible projects will be outlined:
- Farmer’s Market: Green roof; underground storage for treatment and infiltration; stormwater reuse.
- Pioneer High: Underground storage for treatment and infiltration; porous pavement; rain gardens.
- Stadium Boulevard project: Rain gardens, underground storage, water treatment devices.
- Dexter – Ann Arbor Road projects: Rain gardens, underground storage, water treatment devices.
- Miller Road projects: Rain gardens, underground storage, water treatment devices.
For more information, see the following web site.
Why Local Food Can Make Us Healthier, Happier and More Secure
Monday, February 18, 7:00-8:30pm
Ann Arbor Downtown Library, Multi-Purpose Room
A joint program from Slow Food Huron Valley and the Ann Arbor District Library:
Food is powerful! We need to eat every single day and the choices that we make determine how our world is used. Among the most powerful things we can do to create a secure community and a healthy family is to eat and buy locally grown and produced food.
This event spotlights perspectives from luminaries in our own food community. Featuring local farmers Annie Elder and Paul Bantle, Chef Alex Young (chef and co-owner of Zingerman’s Roadhouse), dietician and Farm-to-School Coordinator Ruth Blackburn, and UM research scientist Dr. Catherine Badgley. Along with a big-picture description of how the food system currently works, the panelists will highlight ways in which our vibrant local food system sustains us.
This event is one in a series of events leading up to the HomeGrown Festival celebrating local, sustainable food on September 13, 2008. Make this your year to get involved!
This program is cosponsored by Slow Food Huron Valley, an organization that identifies culinary artisans and local producers who engage in sustainable agriculture and are committed to the viability of the land.
The Ann Arbor Business Review just posted an article on a new plan to build a 26 story student high rise in South U.
Story here: South University Poised for Transformation
The U-shaped “University Village” would go over where the Bagel Factory and the Village Corner are (actually, it would go right on top of them—they’d be demolished).
Some other notable project features:
“University Village is also expected to include a 14,000-square-foot green roof and a 20,000-square-foot raised courtyard that would open up to the west. It’s also aiming for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification and would include passive solar technology, advanced water systems and air quality monitoring.”
The buildings would house 850 students and have 380 parking spaces and 302 bicycle spaces (not bad).
The City will decide to accept or reject the project this Thursday.
The article goes on to discuss the changing nature of South U as more high rise student developments go up, like the in process Zaragon Place.
Could South U lead the way in created a dense and resident-heavy downtown? Time will tell.