Monday, April 2, 2018

#a2council preview: April 2, 2018

"The Old Y Lot," or 350 S 5th Ave.

Tonight is the first April meeting of the Ann Arbor City Council. You can read the agenda here. The agenda is a little heavy so it might run into the start of the NCAA Championship Game.

There are 13 items on the Consent Agenda tonight. There are two street closings, one for the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run (June 3), and one for the Ann Arbor Goddess 5k (May 13). Elsewhere in the Consent Agenda is a increase in the purchase order for salt from the Detroit Salt Company. Nice to see the city using that sweet local salt.

There is one public hearing tonight, PH-1 corresponds with the second reading of the ordinance to rezone 1200 and 1400 Chalmers Drive from township to public land (B-1). I touched on this during the first reading of the ordinance during the March 5th meeting. Essentially, this is taking two undeveloped parcels in a township island and making them into a city nature preserve.

There are two first readings of ordinances tonight. C-1 is an ordinance to amend sections 5:1 and 5:10.4 of Chapter 55 (Zoning) of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor to Modify the Definition of Fraternity or Sorority House and Amend Corresponding Special Exception Use Standards. This ordinance makes it so that, in order to receive a special zoning exemption, all fraternities and sororities would have to have an affiliation with U of M or another post-secondary educational institution within the city of Ann Arbor. So I guess that would be Concordia University. There is a letter of opposition to this ordinance from an attorney "write on behalf of several national Greek organizations" who own property in Ann Arbor.

C-2 concerns the rezoning of 2301 Highland, which is also known as the historical Ingles Estate. I don't expect this to be controversial as it has support from most of the neighbors. It is also coming to council with the full support of the Planning Commission.

The biggest item on the agenda tonight is DC-1. By biggest item, I mean the item that will likely consume the most time. DC-1 concerns "The Old Y Lot," AKA 350 S Fifth Ave., AKA that surface parking lot across from the Library that's always closed. By way of background, the YMCA used to be located on that site. The building was demolished in 2008 and the parcel became a parking lot, hence the name "The Old Y Lot." In 2013 the city sold the property to local hotelier, Dennis Dahlmann's, Fifth Fourth LLC for $5.25 million. As part of the sale, Fifth Fourth LLC was required to make specified improvements and obtain a certificate of occupancy by January 1, 2018. If the Fifth Fourth LLC failed to meet the requirements, then the city has the option to buy the property for $4.5 million. In February of this year, Dahlmann sued the city arguing that the conditions placed on the sale by the city made it impossible to develop the property and satisfy the requirements of the property transaction. You can read more about this on Ed Vielmetti's awesome newsletter and on Ann Arbor's LocalWiki. As Ed notes, "Eight votes are required by council on this decision, which might be a challenge for a council that's been divided 7-4 on many issues."

The only other item I want to draw attention to is the DB-1. This item would use money from the Greenbelt Millage to add a property near the corner of Nixon and Wagner to the Greenbelt. You can see a map below.

So there you have it gentle reader, tonight's meeting definitely has some meat on its bones. I think the question on everyone's mind is whether the meeting will end before the 9:20 tip off. Make sure you tune in tonight at 7 to watch CTN's live stream and follow the blow-by-blow action on #a2council hashtag on Twitter.

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