The Ann Arbor City Council met Monday to discuss the overall City Strategic Plan, hear updates from the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission and discuss the Barton Drive Water Main replacement. The council also heard from members of the Ann Arbor community regarding public concerns with the Brightdawn Village development on Burton Road, a proposed 120-unit apartment building, and increased cut-through traffic in surrounding neighborhoods.

The City Strategic Plan, proposed by city administrator Tom Crawford, combines a series of frameworks, plans and goals to enhance the Ann Arbor community. It includes sustainability frameworks, external resident surveys to determine community priorities for budgeting and a tool used to prioritize services due to limited resources — all issues that have been discussed by Council in previous years. 

“(The plan) pulls from the many different things the Council has done over a number of years, and it’s really seeking to put them in a framework that we can use going forward,” Crawford said. “This will give us a framework that we can look at where the community is in relation to the council’s many plans and policies … and have a snapshot on where we are and our path to success.”

The Council also heard updates from ICPOC chair Lisa Jackson, who spoke about future goals for the commission and community sentiments about the Ann Arbor Police Department. 

“There’s a high expectation for unbiased policing, and that doesn’t just mean in terms of physical violence. It also extends to regular interactions,” Jackson said. “It’s our job as an oversight body to remind police and the council and to reaffirm to the community that good enough isn’t actually good enough.”

The city created the ICPOC in October 2018 in an effort to bridge the relationship between Ann Arbor residents and the police department after numerous instances of police brutality within the AAPD, including the 2014 killing of Aura Rosser. This past summer, in the midst of a racial reckoning following the police killing of George Floyd, the city’s police department was once again called into question for its practices.

Councilmembers also spoke about the Barton Drive water main replacement and resurfacing project, which was previously postponed at the council meeting in June over concerns from residents about paying for the construction. The resolution, which was voted on during Monday’s meeting, failed unanimously.

In an email to the Council in April, Ann Arbor resident Sohyila Hampton expressed concern with the plan to replace water pipelines, not build sidewalks. 

“The main goal should be replacing the water pipes, not unnecessary sidewalks,” Hampton wrote. “This is a waste of taxpayers money and will be a great financial burden on us for years to come.”

During the public comment section, several members of the community expressed concern with the Brightdawn Village development on Barton Road and the opening of Eli Road to increased traffic. Ann Arbor resident Brian Smith said the city should move forward with the development while taking community members’ concerns into consideration.

“Hopefully you’ve been hearing a unified common message which is, as a community, we welcome the developer,” Smith said. “It is now time to move forward on this piece of property and development, but we also want to protect the existing homeowners and the community that surrounds the Forest Park neighborhood from a public safety perspective.” 

Councilmember Travis Radina, D-Ward 3, proposed an amendment to the resolution to approve the Brightdawn Village development in hopes of addressing safety concerns raised by community members.

“I plan to offer an amendment to this resolution … that would allow for the completion of the connection as proposed in a site plan, but would ultimately add a gate and lock at that location,” Radina said. “So that we can limit the traffic currently to emergency vehicles and allow for the continued access that exists now for bicyclists and pedestrians, but would also include a clause that would allow for that to eventually be opened at a future date.”

The amended resolution was passed.

Daily Contributor Lara Janosz can be reached at ljanosz@umich.edu

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