Citizens packed the Ann Arbor City Council chambers to nearly full capacity during Monday night’s meeting, as they organized to express concerns with an item that was not on the night’s agenda: accessory dwelling units.

Accessory dwelling units are additional housing units created within an existing property, either in the main residential house or in an attached, additional house. Legalizing accessory dwelling units is one option council is considering to help increase affordable housing in Ann Arbor. These units would potentially generate revenue to the homeowner and could be less expensive than traditional housing options.

Seven of the nine public commentaries focused on the subject of accessory dwelling units.

Ann Arbor resident Luke Norman spoke in support of accessory dwelling units, noting they would help foster affordable housing in Ann Arbor.

“Briefly legalizing accessory dwelling units would allow homeowners to rent out a converted garage, or a basement or even a tiny house in their property, which is a great way to increase the number of affordable rentals we have in Ann Arbor.”

He said he requests that council allocate $25,000 for a consultant to review the existing plan in the zoning code and to make recommendations for how to best legalize ADUs. He also requested the planning commission and the planning department make the legalization of ADUs a top priority.

Ann Arbor resident Sanders Hamson said he supports the above requests, as he would potentially consider offering an ADU for rent, and wants to know more about the process.

“One of the factors that would assist me in thinking about this possibility would be to see how it is done by other who are farther along in the process,” he said.

After council adopted the Housing Affordability and Equity Analysis in February, Councilmember Jane Lumm (I–Ward 2) said accessory dwelling units have been identified as a priority and further work is taking place the consider the option.

“When this was previously studied there was a significant effort on the part of the planning staff at the time,” Lumm said Monday. “There was also an accessory dwelling unit (committee) and I was part of that. There were significant recommendations made. There is a lot of work that has been done and a lot of this does not need to be reinvented.”

After public commentary ended, most of the attendants left the meeting.

Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor (D) was not present in the meeting. In Taylor’s absence, Councilmember Sabra Briere (D–Ward 1) presided over the meeting.

City Council approved the resolution that confirms the Nixon Road Sidewalk Special Assessment Roll. This resolution calls for the construction of a 5-foot sidewalk on Nixon Road. The estimated cost of the project is $14,537.

In response to Councilmember Jack Eaton’s (D–Ward 4) question if it is possible to install streetlights at the same time as sidewalk construction so as to avoid future construction, Craig Hupy, Ann Arbor public services administrator, said streetlights are not included in the budget.

“Typically when we put streetlights in this time period, the way we do construction we don’t cut them in. We drill them and only where the bases are the lights themselves do we actually open up the ground, so the impact of putting them in is minimized,” Hupy said.

City Council also approved a resolution to create a skatepark advisory committee for Ann Arbor’s skatepark.

Though the originally proposed resolution called for only seven members, Councilmember Eaton nominated an eighth member, Councilmember Stephen Kunselman (D–Ward 3), and the additional appointment was approved by the council. Ultimately, the committee is slated to have nine members.

The committee consists of city employees, as well as two members of the Friends of Ann Arbor Skatepark organization.

This advisory committee is meant to provide advice and feedback to assist city staff in the maintenance and operation of the skatepark and to organize and promote events in the skatepark, among other responsibilities.

Councilmember Mike Anglin (D–Ward 5), who sponsored the resolution, said this is one of the largest cooperative projects between the private sector and the city that he could remember.

“I am glad that people who are involved at the grassroots level here remain committed to this because it will need maintenance as time goes on and some other things. Everybody knows the popularity of this,” he said.

Committee members serve two-year terms.

City Council will reconvene Monday, April 13, to discuss the budget for the fiscal years of 2016 and 2017.

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