With a unanimous vote, the Ann Arbor City Council approved a resolution to enter into an agreement with the University’s Board of Regents that requires the City to contribute to the maintenance of MCity —  Ann Arbor’s automated vehicle testing facility that opened in July.

This contract will make way for the appropriation of $79,252 in federal funds to Mcity. The city of Ann Arbor will contribute to the project by helping to sustain the test environment by maintaining existing equipment, providing network support and enhancing the facility as needed for additional research efforts.

The resolution approves Ann Arbor’s participation in a cooperative agreement between the University’s Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) and the Federal Highway Association, part of the goal of seeking “external partners to upgrade and leverage the test site so it can be sustained without further federal investment.”

The federal funding will go toward updating the site’s vehicles’ software, upgrading infrastructure and security, and marketing the site to potential application developers and external investors.

Amendments to snow removal policy approved

Council also approved an amendment to sections of the city’s snow removal policy — a change recommended by the recently-released Pedestrian Safety and Access Task Force.

The ordinance amended three sections in the Code of the City of Ann Arbor and added a fourth amendment regarding sidewalk snow removal policies.

One of the amendments asks alters language in the section that calls for the removal of snow greater than one inch, so that residents are now required to remove any snowfall that lands on the sidewalks outside of their property.

A second amendment states that residents will have 24 hours to clear their sidewalks, after which they will receive a citation from Community Standards. From the time they receive the citation, they will then have another 24 hours to clear their property themselves before the City does it for them and issues the resident a fee for doing so.

The third amendment clarifies that the fine for the citation and the fee for the City clearing the resident’s sidewalks are two separate fees.

Councilmember Stephen Kunselman (D–Ward 3) said he is pro-“clear pavement,” but he said the ordinance presents too abrupt of a change.

“I would like to define ways of getting to a lower threshold of snow, in a way that is gradual and takes into account other things like fines and really going after the chronic offenders in a way that doesn’t feel so abrupt for the rest of the community,” Kunselman said.

Vote on zoning change postponed

During Monday’s meeting, an ordinance to amend a zoning law pertaining to a new apartment complex was postponed until the Council’s second meeting in November. The amendment, if passed, will re-zone what is now 53.61 acres, located off of Nixon Road and M-14, of agriculture and wetlands to make way for development of a new complex, the Woodbury Club Apartments.

The apartment complex would consist of 282 apartment units and 575 parking spaces.

Many community members who live in the area, which is now composed mostly of wetlands, spoke out against the development project.

Among those concerned were residents who live near Barclay Park, an area that borders the prospective development site.

“I speak for the board and the membership when I say we are opposed to any new development north and west of Barclay Park,” said William Quinn, Barclay Park Board of Directors president. “We are very concerned about the impact the development will have on the wetlands and traffic.”

Several councilmembers also expressed concerns.

Councilmember Jane Lumm (I–Ward 2) said if the Council voted to postpone their vote on the bill, it could use that time to try to solve some of the community’s concerns with the project.

“This time can be used to work through all of the issues, get more clarity, definition and get in concert with the neighbors,” Lumm said.

Councilmember Sumi Kailasapathy (D–Ward 1) echoed Lumm’s opinion.

“I would like to see a move from a perspective of mitigation to actually preservation,” Kailasapathy said. “The whole lens through which we now see things is ‘Okay, let’s destroy some trees and then let’s plant some other trees over there.’ I think Ann Arbor can do better than that.”

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