Council discusses S. State Street corridor, taxi licensing problems

By Matthew Jackonen, Daily Staff Reporter
Published February 4, 2013

On Monday night, the Ann Arbor City Council approved the distribution of the draft master plan for the South State Street Corridor Plan. Council members also discussed the Feb. 4 rape report and the allocation of energy funds.

The corridor plan, which has been discussed since Oct. 2011, plots the future of what is known as the State Street corridor — the stretch of State Street between Stimson Street and West Ellington Street. This stretch of land contains vital University property, including South Campus, the University golf course and includes Briarwood Mall.

The plan aims to promote development, improve the appearance of the corridor, sustainability and economic vigor along the corridor. It holds any proposed development to high environmental and public safety standards. It also includes a recommendation to demolish certain small commercial buildings in order to create more efficient, high-rise living space.

The draft will come back to the council for further discussion at a later date and could include the addition of amendments to the plan.

Kunselman discusses taxicab regulations following sexual assault

Councilmember Stephen Kunselman, the Democrat from Ward 3, also spoke out in response to the reported rape of a female University student this Sunday during open commentary.

University Police released a crime alert regarding the report Sunday. Kunselman proposed that the City Council crack down on certain taxi companies that operate without licensing within Ann Arbor.

“It brings forth the issues we’ve been grappling with … the issues of rogue limos,” Kunselman said. “We have been worried about that for some time, and it is time for this council, this administration and the police department to take action.”

“Without that, we don’t know who these drivers are. We don’t know who these strangers are coming into our community,” he added.

Kunselman said because he holds a spot on the Ann Arbor Taxicab Board, he would push for more accountability and licensing.

“The one thing I can do about it as the chair is to start asking for a monthly report at our taxicab board meetings about what enforcement activities are taking place,” Kunselman said.

Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje said he agreed with Kunselman, noting that the city should do more to solve this issue.

Council discusses PACE bonds

The Council also postponed the vote on a resolution to authorize the allocation of property-assessed clean energy bonds. The resolution, which resolves the allocation of up to $1 million in PACE bonds, was inserted Monday before the council meeting.

The city created the PACE program after receiving a $432,800 Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The program intends to improve commercial energy use and help businesses within the city finance clean energy improvements.

The resolution proposes to allocate these funds to various properties across Ann Arbor in the hopes of increasing the use of clean energy. Whether or not the properties mentioned in the resolution are in most need of the funds in terms of clean energy is unclear.

Hieftje said he doesn’t think postponing the vote is an issue and expressed his satisfaction at the near culmination of the process.

“I don’t think it matters at all,” Hieftje said. “It is a very exciting move. There have been a lot of people that have been working on this program for years, and I will be very joyful when we get this under way. But we do still have a little bit of time given the time frame that has been set for us with the backstop fund that has been set up by the federal government.”