- Kids Corner
By Lorna Hurl NBPA Secretary
Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, 7 p.m.
Friends Meeting House, 1420 Hill St., Ann Arbor, Mich.
Call to Order: by Peter Nagourney at 7:20 pm
- Introduction of guests: Mayor (and resident) John Heftje, Council member and district representative Chris Taylor; county commissioner (and resident) Yousef Rabhi
- Introduction of new neighborhood residents and representatives from area fraternity
- Update from Tony Pinelli on efforts of residents living near the western edge of NBP to address violations of city ordinances re: noise, over-occupancy of rental units
- New large-scale housing developments for students are lessening pressure on residential areas to provide student housing. The result is several instances of vacant housing not selling to rental landlords but a trend towards a return to owner occupied housing.
- Current efforts to address incidences of over- occupancy of student rentals are being directed towards negligent landlords as opposed to student renters. Because of the difficulty of proving how many people actually live in a rental house, the focus is on enforcing city ordinances regarding parking – i.e. more than 4 parked cars on a lot constitutes a parking lot and requires landlords to meet requirements regarding surfacing, lighting, and spacing. City officials and police have been very responsive to reports of illegal parking lots, resulting in pressure on landlords to limit tenancy. Tony encourages all residents to document and report complaints regarding over-parking to city officials.
- Tony’s report stimulated a discussion on the role of city government vs. area residents regarding the enforcement of bylaws and ordinances. Councilman Taylor indicated the importance of citizens in identifying documenting and reporting concerns to police and city officials so they could act to enforce regulations. He noted the city pays increased attention to the NBP area on game days because of problems with parking and trash. He encouraged residents to call 99-GREEN to report problems with accumulating trash, noting the existence of next day service for trash removal. He also observed in it difficult to get judges to levy fines. Mayor Heftje confirmed the difficulty of enforcing over-occupancy and encouraged resident to register complaint every time they become aware of such situations, indicating that a record of several complaints is required to build a record for enforcement and encourage judges to levy fines
- Stevie Smith introduced the new NPBA website. She revealed and demonstrated the website which includes a history of the area and its historic houses, information regarding local resources and events, and a special section for children. She thanked the hard work of the many residents who volunteered hours of work and resources in the designing, constructing and developing content for the website: Peter Nagourney, Betsey Price, Chris Meves and her son Scott, Margie Morris, Donna Tope, Kate Mendeloff, Kate Brummett, Rina Lieberman, Andrea VanHouweling, and Hazel and John Byers (children’s section). Special thanks went to Ellen Ramsburgh, Lisa Jevens, Brad Whitridge and Stevie Smith for the exceptional efforts in seeing the project through.
- Stevie indicated that the website is ready for the development of its second phase, and encourages interested residents to join in efforts to further develop the site. Contact Stevie through the website or at email@example.com. She also encouraged individuals who have events they wish to have announced on the website calendar, to email her at the same address.
- Brad Whitridge noted that NBPA not only has the website, but also a Facebook page and Twitter feed, both of which can be accessed through the site.
- Jane Wilkinson and Howard Ando spoke about the creation in the park, near the warming house, of 4 courts of the petanque, a game similar to bocce spelling? They are currently teaching children at BP school how to play the game, and note the courts are open all the time for play. Formal games are scheduled on Sundays at 3:00 pm from May to October. Information about the game and announcements regarding forthcoming games will be posted on the NBPA website.
- County Commissioner Yousef Rabhi invited residents to contact him directly regarding any questions or concerns they have regarding Washtenaw County services and issues. – phone 734-222-6850 (office) or 734-548-5159 (cell). He indicated budget negotiations are currently underway. He indicated that funds for discretionary services, including many human services, are facing large reductions. Non-profit agencies, including the humane society and agencies providing services for the homeless, and abused women and children, could lose up to 50% of County funds. Commissioner Rabhi invited residents to contact him by early November regarding their views on projected cutbacks.
- Pamela Simmons, coordinator of the Senior Center was introduced. She noted the center is introducing events that will be open to all Burns Park residents. These will be listed on the calendar of events on the new website.
Issues from the floor:
- Criminal activity in the neighborhood. Concern was expressed regarding increased incidents of fights and rapes in the northern area of the community, in areas of student housing. Mayor Heftje indicated that this perception is largely the result of publicity related to a limited number of high profile cases. He noted that in actuality, numbers of both crimes against people and lesser crimes/misdemeanors are both down significantly from previous years. Citing this as a “banner year” for crime reduction, he commented that much goes on behind the scenes that is not open to public release. He also indicated that the numbers and frequency of police patrols in residential areas has not decreased; reductions have primarily been in the downtown area.
- Noise bylaw enforcement. 1) Concern was expressed about noise emanating from after-hours construction on the Landmark high-rise on the corner of South Forest and South University. Residents were encouraged to report incidences of after-hours construction on this site. 2) Several attendees complained about the failure of police to regulate noise coming from events that have obtained city permits. They were encouraged to point out to officers that even permitted events are subject to limitations on decibel levels. Considerable discussion ensued regarding complaints about a recent UM event. Mayor Heftje reported ongoing tension between the city and the University regarding the latter’s claim that they are not subject to the city’s noise ordinance.
- Zoning issues. It was noted that plans to build a new medium-rise structure next door to the Landmark building are currently on-hold but it is anticipated that new plans will be resubmitted in the near future.
- Ed Vielmetti, a resident of Lower Burns Park (south of the school and park) noted an interest in building a community organization similar to NBPA in that area. He asked that any NBPA members who are willing to talk with him with information and suggestions contact him at 734-330-2465 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010, 7 p.m.
Friends Meeting House, 1420 Hill St., Ann Arbor, Mich.
The North Burns Park Association Fall Meeting took place at the Friends Meeting House on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010, with approximately 30 neighbors present.
Peter Nagourney, the North Burns Park co-chair, opened the meeting at 7 p.m:
- Peter introduced the neighborhood’s two city council members, Stephen Kunselman and Christopher Taylor.
- New neighbors then introduced themselves.
- Steven Turner of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity said that the fraternity would like to “bridge the gap” between neighbors and the fraternity.
- A representative of the Ann Arbor Senior Center, located in Burns Park, talked about community enrichment activities at the center that are open to all adults, not just seniors. She also mentioned that the center may be rented for groups of up to 100 people.
- Peter thanked Betsy Price and Ellen Ramsburgh for baking homemade brownies and cookies for those attending the meeting.
- Council member Chris Taylor discussed the new city ordinance prohibiting upholstered furniture on porches.
- In response to a question, Chris also discussed new city fall leaf management changes. The city no longer collects bulk leaves from the street.
- Stevie Smith presented information about a proposed North Burns Park Association website. Stevie said that she and other North Burns Park Association members have met to discuss the website. She added that Scott Meves has volunteered to develop a format. She asked for additional volunteers and announced that a meeting about the website will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m. at Ellen Ramsburgh’s house, 1503 Cambridge Road.
- Peter Nagourney, Christopher Taylor, Steve Kunselman and others discussed “quality-of-life” issues. Topics included trash and noise from student parties, fire crackers, the painting of sidewalks near the Rock, excessive occupancy in student rental housing, and street lighting.
- One neighbor mentioned the city’s non-emergency phone numbers for dealing with trash and other issues. He urged residents to “be proactive and call.”
- Peter Nagourney provided updated information on the 601 Forest project, to be built at the corner of South University and Forest avenues. Construction is slated to begin this fall.
- Peter and other neighbors discussed transportation issues including reconstruction of the Stadium bridges and construction of the Fuller Road transit station. Chris Taylor noted that the bridge project has received $14 million in federal funding. Steve Kunselman commented that he believes that the city should “bargain harder” with the University of Michigan on issues involving the transit station.
- Another neighbor expressed concerns about houses on Minerva Street increasingly becoming student rentals rather than homes for families with young children.
- Gwen Nystuen, John Nystuen, and Andrea Van Houweling discussed ways that other college towns deal with similar issues. Andrea mentioned the possibility of “overlay zoning.”
- Lisa Jevens encouraged neighbors with photography skills to volunteer their services for the NBPA website.
- Peter Nagourney thanked city council members Steve Kunselman and Chris Taylor for attending.
- Several neighbors again discussed town-gown conflicts.
- Peter Nagourney ended the meeting at 9 p.m.