- Kids Corner
November 15, 2016
Ann Arbor Senior Center at 1320 Baldwin Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI
Call to Order: Co-chair Peter Nagourney at 7:10 p.m.
1. Introduced City Administrator Howard Lazarus
Mr. Lazarus introduced himself and the work he did while in Austin, TX. He is prioritizing child safety, saying it’s not a matter of financing but of priorities. He has experience in transportation problems, groundwater problems, and worked with the EPA and superfund. He cited similarities between Austin and Ann Arbor and then took questions from the audience.
- First question was expressing concern about the dioxane problem and the slow response time in addressing it. Lazarus said the city has filed suit to allow AA to be part of the Gelman negotiations by having a seat at the table. He added that it is being addressed at the city, county, and state levels. This work involves identifying the responsible party, getting a legal agreement, and working with the attorney general. He considers this the single biggest thing holding over the city and intends to be active in resolving it. He outlined a solution in response to a question saying we have to go to the source of the problem, pump it out, and dispose of it. Councilmember Zach Ackerman also spoke to this.
- Nagourney launched the discussion about ‘architectural pollution’. Lazarus discussed requests for a waiver of variance and the lack of control over design if it meets zoning requirements. Further complaints about the council being pro development without consideration for what the city population wants. Lazarus upheld the zoning parameters. Discussion about development and density by members and councilmembers with emphasis on how residents vigorously rejected proposals but how developers prevailed.
- There was a question about what’s driving the increased traffic congestion. Lazarus attributes it to the UM Hospital System which is growing annually, and downtown growth. He recognizes the need for affordable and easy transportation improvements. Lazarus said that he promotes communication between himself and neighborhood residents and wants to be a good negotiator.
2. Lisa Jevens spoke to a problem with fraternities co-opting a residence and treating it like a fraternity; they are called satellite houses or annexes. She instructed residents on what to do if anyone sees this happen:
- First call the zoning department;
- Then call the office of Greek life at the university;
- Then call the police. She also suggested documenting the situation by taking photos.
She next introduced Sergeant Thomas Hickey, Community Engagement department, AA Police Department (734.994.2911 – non-emergency number). His department deals with our concerns; fraternities; alcohol/drug use by kids; large events where there are large amounts of alcohol; neighborhood problems, particularly with fraternities. He explained that it’s hard for residents to know when to call 911 (Washtenaw county dispatch) and said it’s a case-by-case decision: Rely on when you, as a neighbor, sees something that doesn’t seem right; people often say they didn’t want to bother them but police would rather we bother them; “if you see something, say something”. He said the noise ordinance rule of thumb is that if someone is violating the peace and quiet of someone else, that’s a violation of the noise ordinance and that stacked up violations leads to stiffer fines. There are always extra officers on duty for party control on all football weekends. He advises to document and call them, and they will address it. You need to state if you want follow-up contact but either way, leave your contact information in case there are questions later. Call UM police only when it’s in a university building. One residents asked why garbage can’t be collected after the predictable weekends when there is excess trash. Sergeant Hickey acknowledged the problem.
3. Councilpersons Julie Grand and Zach Ackerman – 15/16 distinct neighborhoods represented by AA Council.
- Zach addressed problems at the Delta Kappa Epsilon house on Olivia and Cambridge. He also addressed problems with the number of unrelated people living in single family homes. He stressed documenting problematic behavior. Nagourney said ordinance compliance doesn’t get resolved because it doesn’t get addressed when reported. Zach acknowledged this problem. Julie said the city is considering citing problems as misdemeanors instead of citations. A key question was what’s the cut-off for nuisance behavior that turns it into a misdemeanor. Alpha Sigma Phi on Baldwin continues to be a problem. Zach says to contact him and Julie directly. There was further discussion about the lack of resolution for repeated offenses. Lazarus agreed this needs to be addressed and will discuss it with police. Representatives from Phi Sigma Kappa on Baldwin are concerned about the negative comments. They strongly recommend calling the office of Greek life so they as a fraternity can work on it. There was further discussion about trash bins left out on the streets for weeks and months. One residents questioned why the city is so ineffectual in enforcing these years-old problems. Lazarus feels a responsibility for this and wants to address it. There was general frustration about the lack of city response to trash and to the lack of cooperation by student neighbors and landlords.
- Accessory dwelling units: they were approved by the city in spite of opposition. Zach reports that two people have approached the city for approval and were denied for different reasons. He considers these rejections a success of the process.
- Traffic calming: looking at bringing down the speed limit and reducing the percentage of neighbors that is needed to install speed bumps to make Burns Park less amenable to cut-throughs. There was a question about street parking; someone explained how the process works to restrict parking and to get a street parking permit. The problem was a vehicle parked in the same place for months and other residents explained how to handle it.
- Infrastructure for the ice rinks will begin again shortly.
- Safe routes to schools: Active steps are being taken to increase the safety of all children walking and biking to and from school; this is a community effort.
4. Peter Nagourney explained the history of NBPA and made a request for voluntary dues. Betsy Price would like to be relieved of her co-chair position and Nagourney asked for a volunteer.
Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 9:05 p.m.
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.