Video: Ypsilanti City Council Nov 18, 2008

November 23, 2008 by  
Filed under News, Video

Part 1
Part 2

Gary Clark made a presentation about Give Local Ypsilanti.

Audience Participation

A number of residents spoke in support for Brandy’s Liquor store at 902 W. Michigan Avenue.

The City of Ypsilanti has filed suit in District Court asking the property be declared a nuisance. A court hearing had been set for December 14th. Neighbors have complained for years about chronic problems with crime, drugs, and trash as a result of the business operating on the corner of Summit and Michigan Ave.

Gary Hann spoke giving his appreciation for the police department, city clerk, and city assessor. Mr. Hann asked for his fine to remove trash from his property. This was Mr. Hann’s third request in as many meetings.

Resolutions and Ordinances

On first reading was a new ordinance called. “Adaptive Reuse Planned Unit Development Amendments”. This new ordinance was to try to ease re-use of non-conforming property in R1 and R2 districts. After significant discussion, more questions arose and the matter was tabled.

The council then approved a levy of all special assessments on the December 2008 Tax. A tax abatement was also approved for QC America which is a new business in the West Industrial Park off Michigan Avenue.

The council approved a agreement with Attorney Neil Lehto for contingency work from suing Comcast for franchise fees Comcast may owe the city for service provided for students on EMU campus. If successful, the City may get upwards of $70,000 after fee for Lehto.

Council then considered two Water Street resolutions. The first directed the staff to determine how much money the City has spent on Water Street up to the present. The resolution further directed the staff to track all new expenditures and to treat those expenses as loans to be paid back the City when the project is completed.

The second Water Street amendment directs the staff to consider all possible development projects for the property that generates the needed tax revenue and is not a detriment to the community. Previous plans called out for mostly residential development.

Water Street

Water Street update from April McGrath. The Planning Commission is meeting on Wednesday to continue discussions on making a planned unit development (PUD). Council is planning a special meeting in December to talk more about Water Street.

The EPA grant through the county has been submitted and is up to $600,000.

CBRE has up to 4 proposals that are in the works for Water Street. Housing plans including active senior, multi-family, and a possible grocery store on Michigan Avenue. McGrath said to expect any proposal to take a year or more after the city agrees to a buyer.

Council Proposed Business

Brian Robb (Dem, Ward 3) suggested the Human Relations Commission take a look at the issues surrounding Brandy’s. This was supported by Trudy Swanson (Dem, Ward 3). The Council also passed a resolution directing City staff to postpone the lawsuit against for 60 days.

Audience Participation

Mr. Hanna from Brandy’s Party store spoke again saying the City has been harassing their store and customers.

Video: Ypsilanti Downtown DDA Nov 20, 2008

November 22, 2008 by  
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The Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority met on Thursday, November 20th. Peter Rinehart was elected to his third term as chairman of the board and John Coleman was elected vice-Chair.

DDA Director Brian Vosburg pushed for board members to take on the role as Treasurer and Secretary. Vosburg said the secretary would take on responsibility for getting board packets and minutes out per state law. The treasurer would each month with the city finance department to put together the financial reports for board review. These are tasks that have traditionally been done by the last four DDA Directors.

Vosburg has been criticized in the past by the DDA board and downtown business owners for late and last minute board packets. The DDA approved the hiring of a part-time recording secretary to take meeting minutes. The taking of notes was a task done by the previous DDA directors. The DDA also approved the hiring of interns to also ease Vosburg’s workload so calls would be answered at the office

Vosburg did not say during the meeting what he would do with his extra time if he didn’t have to be responsible for financial reports and board packets.

The board would have none of that and unanimously elected Vosburg as Secretary and Treasurer.

The DDA approved moving the DDA office to the second floor of the Jacobsen Daniels building at the corner of N. Washington and Pearl. The DDA office had, for over 10 years, been located on the first floor

The DDA Director Vosburg looked at office space at City Hall and the Centennial Building (former Huron Hotel). While the office at the Jacobsen Daniels building was the msot expensive option, that was the location Vosburg recommended.

It was somewhat surprising that the DDA director didn’t consider other office space in the downtown district. The GAR building on Pearl St (across the street from Congdon’s Ace Hardware) would have met the desire to have first floor visibility and the Key Bank building would have had cheaper office space than what was finally approved.

Darryl Daniels, current vice-Chair of the DDA and owner of the Jacobsen Daniel building, abstained from the discussion or the vote on the selection of new office space.

The DDA also approved the expenditure of $8,000 for Christmas lights which should be installed by the second week in December. The DDA had approved $5,000 for lighting this year. Rinehart said they we would be slightly over budget if they approved $8,000. Actually it is 60% over budget which would be hard to charcterize as a slight overage.

The DDA also discussed the approval of no-bid contracts by the DDA Director. Vosburg said the Director was authorized by the City Council to expend up to $20,000 without requiring a competitive bid. This is the second time in two days that Vosburg has said the City Council had granted him specific authority failing to realize it is the DDA and not the City Council that hires the DDA director.
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Video: Ypsilanti Depot Town DDA Nov 19, 2008

November 19, 2008 by  
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The Ypsilanti Depot Town DDA met this morning at Barnes and Barnes for their monthly meeting.

There was a “differing of the monds” between board members and the DDA Director Brian Vosburg. Brian Vosburg wanted to act as the point person with SEMCOG for the commuter train that plans to stop in Ypsilanti.

Vosburg told the board that the City Council had appointed him (Vosburg) to represent the City at SEMCOG and he said he was concerned about appointing someone else to represent the DTDDA at SEMCOG.

DDA Chair Dave Wheeler reminded Vosburg that he does not work for the City but works for the DTDDA and DDA and they decide which projects and committees he serves. Wheeler told Vosburg that the DTDDA board works at teh pleasure of the Mayor and Council but the DDA Director does not work for the City.

It was obvious from the discussion the DDA Director was looking at other possible locations for the train platform that could possibly be outside Depot Town. Vosburg said the issue is a city wide issue and it should be a city decision.

It appears the DDA director may be working against the best interests of Depot Town by advocating for the train platform outside the DTDDA district or at a location far from the center of Depot Town. Business owners in Depot Town have long wanted the train stop to be at the Freighthouse or the vacant Depot or the Maple Street parking lot.

Wheeler said Vosburg could attend the SEMCOG meetings, but he would represent the DTDDA at SEMCOG.

The DTDDA Board passed a resolution, unanimously, to appoint Dave Wheeler to represent the DTDDA in any discussions with SEMCOG regarding the train stop in Depot Town.

The Board also changed the meeting date starting in January. New meetings will be on the 4th Thursday of each month at 8:00a. Meetings will alternate between Barnes and Barnes on W. Cross St. and Utilities Instrumentation on N. River St. The Boar also canceled their December meeting.

Video: City Council Goal Setting November 15, 2008

November 18, 2008 by  
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This is the first of three and possibly four goal setting sessions. The meeting was led by Joe Ohren, Professor of Political Science at Eastern Michigan University.

Council and City Staff first introduced themselves. The discussion turned to what council and staff have for a vision of Ypsilanti and some of the concerns they have for the continued success of the community. There was a wide range of ideas from cleaner streets, involving EMU, transportation, walking to work, vibrant neighborhoods, regional transportation.

Joe Ohren

Bill Nickels (Dem, Ward 2) asked the question would EMU be here in 10 years. Bill said no one would ever think that GM would be considering bankruptcy. Fire Chief Jon Ichesco suggested the city reach out to local property owners as they bring a number of new people to the community each year.

Ichesco is correct, the landlord and property management business is the largest private employer responsible for over 500 full time jobs and is the third largest employer behind EMU and Ypsilanti Public Schools.

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Video: Ypsilanti City Council November 10, 2008

November 17, 2008 by  
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This was the organizational meeting of the Ypsilanti City Council held the first Monday after the November election. Three city council members were each sworn in for a four-year term. Lois Richardson (Dem, Ward 1) took the oath of office for to start her third term representing Ypsilanti’s southside.

Two new members also took the dais. Mike Bodary (Dem, Ward 2) from Ypsilanti’s westside replaced three-term council member John Gawlas. Bodary defeated Gawlas in the August primary.

Pete Murdock (Dem, Ward 3) from the city’s eastside bested Rod Johnson who was backed by Mayor Paul Schreiber (Dem) in the August primary. Murdock then beat two independent candidates to win the November election with 67% of the vote. Murdock takes the seat from Brian Filipiak (Dem) who decided not to run for a second term.

Murdock, a former Mayor and city council member, is beginning his fourteenth year on City Council.

But before new council members could be sworn in, MML Director Dan Gilmartin gave the old and new council a presentation on Place.

The biggest change will start this Tuesday as City Council meetings have been moved to 7pm.

During Council proposed business Murdock asked for a resolution to repeal the City Income Tax ordinance and to change the focus of Water Street to consider any proposal for the project that would not be a detriment to the City. This would be a change from previous plans that called for mostly residential condos at the site. Both resolutions are expected to be on the agenda for the November 18th meeting.

Video: Ypsilanti Depot Town DDA Oct 22, 2008

November 17, 2008 by  
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Brian Vosburg, Ypsilanti DDA Director, reminds the board that he still doesn’t have a job description.

Here is the Agenda for the meeting.

IV. Audience Participation
V. Approval of Minutes – September 24, 2008 Regular Meeting*
VI. Old Business
1. DDA Director Time Sharing
2. West Cross Organizing*
3. MDOT Cross St. Streetscape Grant
4. Ballard Lot Renovations
5. Signal Tower Maintenance Work
6. Depot Town Brochure
7. Holiday Lights*
8. Other
VII. New Business
1. Other
VIII. Reports
1. DTDDA Director
2. Financial Report
3. Depot Town Association
4. Depot Town Forward
5. Eastern Michigan University
6. Friends of the Ypsilanti Freighthouse
IX. Announcements
X. Adjournment
* Indicates Action Item

Video: Superior Twp Board of Trustees Oct. 6, 2008

November 11, 2008 by  
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This is the first of what we hope will be many video recordings of the Superior Township Board of Trustees meetings.

Video: Ypsilanti City Council October 21, 2008 (Update1)

October 24, 2008 by  
Filed under News, Video

Part 1
Part 2

The big story from tonight’s Ypsilanti City Council meeting was the approval by city council for funding for AATA service. The City approved an nearly $70,000 increase in annual funding for AATA topping out at over $257,000 per year.

Presentation on Aerotropolis Corporation

Marsha L. Ennis, Aerotropolis Project Manager says Aerotropolis could create 60,000 new jobs. Ennis discussed a 10-bill package before the House in Lansing to change state economic development programs to assist Aerotropolis in attracting new business ventures. Ennis is thinking that Aerotropolis would use Local District Financing Authority (LDFA). A $50,000 annual fee would be paid for local governments though Ypsilanti would be exempt as they are part of the founding board.

Council approves on second reading the rezoning of the Hudson Motors/Automotive Heritage Museum.

Audience Participation. Lisa Walters and Lisa Zuber spoke in a tribute to John Gawlas as this is his last meeting before the next election. Beth Bashert also spoke to thank Gawlas for his willingness to take it on the chin for the city. Mayor’s remarks. Mayor Paul Schreiber (Dem) also thanked Gawlas for his service.

Minutes of Oct 3, 2008 were approved with one change.

Consent Agenda was approved with no discussion.
1. Resolution No. 2008-215, approving the Downtown Development Authority Blueprints Plan.
2. Resolution No. 2008-216, approving Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Cost Agreement for Traffic Signal Control M17 (Washtenaw Ave.) at Hamilton St.
3. Resolution No. 2008-217, approving Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Cost Agreement for Traffic Signal Control M17 (Huron St.) at Michigan Ave.
4. Resolution No. 2008-218, approving Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Cost Agreement for Traffic Signal Control M17 (Washtenaw Ave.) at Oakwood St.
5. Resolution No. 2008-219, approving Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Cost Agreement for Traffic Signal Control US 12 BR (Huron St.) at Catherine St.
6. Resolution No. 2008-220, approving Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Cost Agreement for Traffic Signal Control US 12 BR, M17 (Michigan Ave.) at
Washington St.
7. Resolution No. 2008-221, approving an agreement with Washtenaw County Community Development, Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) for
the City of Ypsilanti Sidewalk Ramp Replacement Program.
8. Resolution No. 2008-230, approving a contract with Ypsilanti Restoration, LLC for site work and wood repairs at the Ypsilanti Freighthouse.

Council approved the Aerotropolis Interlocal agreement. Bill Nickels (Dem, Ward 2) said the formation of the Aerotropolis was much like the formation of our country but without giving up local right like the states gave up their rights. Schreiber said Aerotrpolis was complicated and difficult to understand. No other discussion and the resolution was approved unanimously.

Next on the agenda was a series of resolutions outlining policies and procedures for granting tax abatements. Assistant City manager April McGrath introduced the presenters. Teresa Gilotti and Courtney Miller then presented the policies, process and fees for any future tax abatements.

This is a stunning new and sweeping policy. The new policy puts forth that any business locating in a property that is receiving a tax abatement must also pay a living wage. So this could apply to any home business. It isn’t clear if this requirement is only during the abatement period or for the life of the building. After the meeting we asked Ms. Gillotti if we misunderstood the policy and she said we did not but this was not a change but a a continuation of the existing Living Wage Law. Requiring a tenant that is not receiving the benefit of the tax abatement to pay prevailing wage would be a huge change in how the law is applied in Ypsilanti. City Manager Ed Koryzno said that he did not read the policy in the same way it was presented and would look in to the matter. YpsiNews will report back once the issue of tax abatements and living wage is clarified.

AATA funding was approved by council by a unanimous vote. Lois Richardson (Dem, Ward 1) renewed her request for how much funding AATA receives for providing service. The City manager said he was unable to get that information from AATA. Yet why didn’t the manager or City respond earlier rather than waiting until the night of the vote. Funding to AATA goes up by 39% over last year.

The City renews their request for full funding for fire service from the State. A letter will be sent.

Council proposed business
Richardson thanked Gawlas and Filipiak for their service on Council.
Brian Filipiak (Dem, Ward 3) brought up the savings of using LED for traffic signals. Filipiak also gave his swan song speech.
Robb asked about MERS investments and possible new costs from the general fund. Robb brought up the College of Business parking lot. Asked for fines for illegal dumping in downtown dumpsters.
Gawlas said goodbye and thanks. Sorry about the flowers, we did not put them there.
Nickels said thanks for Filipak and Gawlas as well.
Trudy Swanson (Dem, Ward 1) said goodbye to Gawlas and Filipiak saying Filipiak reminds him of a old teenager and that she will miss the 30 minute speeches from Gawlas.

Communications from the Mayor. Thanked Gawlas and Filipiak for their service.

Communications from City Manager Ed Koryzno. He has arranged for a guest speaker for the first council meeting after the election to talk about place. More thanks to Gawlas and Filipiak.

Audience Participation. Kevin Hill spoke about left turns on Michigan Avenue. Steve Pierce asked the council to support the request for public parking at the EMU structure downtown.

Mayor Schreiber said the EMU parking request should be pursued in a cautious manor.

Council adjourned at 9:55p.

Update1: November 3, 2008 12:14a Corrected the spelling of Teresa Gilloti’s name. Changed Prevailing Wage to Living Wage. The laws are different. Both errors were in reporting.

The City has also told YpsiNews the Living Wage ordinance would only apply to the recipient of the tax abatement. Tenants and residents working or living in properties receiving tax abatements would not be subject to the the Living Wage Ordinance. The City said they were incorrect in the information they presented to City Council about the Living Wage ordinance and the impact on tax abatements.

Video: Ypsilanti DDA, October 16, 2008 (Update 1)

October 23, 2008 by  
Filed under News, Video

Meeting notes from the Ypsilanti DDA.

YpsiNews brought up during audience participation that the DDA violated the Open Meetings Act on October 3 and that no one from the DDA including the DDA director has not responded to our inquiries or admitted there was a problem.

DDA Director Brian Vosburg passed out, during a public meeting no less, the minutes from the closed session held on October 3, 2008. After the minutes were approved, he quickly collected them back up.

Tree lighting. The DDA has $3,000 budgeted for lights. Director Brian Vosberg will call a contractor to get a quote to install new lights and see if DPW is putting up the lights and garland.

0h:11m David Curtis is continuing to work on the locks for the dumpsters. A discussion on the dumpsters then ensued. Mayor Paul Schreiber said the Downtown Association of Ypsilanti meeting on Wednesday discussed the continue problems with dumpster. When Brian Vosburg was hired in the June 2006 he was directed by the DDA board to make the dumpsters a top priority. Two years later the dumpsters continue to be a problem and the DDA does not have a clear plan to fix the current problems with dumpster divers, and overflowing containers. One concern brought up was tenants would not remember the code. Though no one mentioned it, that is easy to solve. The landlords could but a small sign on the inside of their building by the door most people use to take out their trash with the current dumpster code.
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Video: Ypsilanti DDA Blueprints update October 22, 2008

October 22, 2008 by  
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The Ypsilanti Downtown Development authority (DDA) held a public update meeting on Blueprints and the Mainstreet program. The meeting was held in the acoustically challenged Riverside Arts Center Off-center main room so we apologize for the sound quality.

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