The Ann Arbor City Council finally passed the Huron River and Impoundment Management Plan — which has been in the works since 2006 — last night after implementing multiple amendments.
The plan features 30 consensus recommendations on how to better manage the Huron River. Of the 30 recommendations the council agreed to move forward on 29 of them, deciding to view the issue of the Argo Dam separately.
The resolution, which was co-sponsored by Councilmember Carsten Hohnke (D–Ward 5) and Councilmember Margie Teall (D–Ward 4), was a motion to accept the plan, which was created by the Huron River and Impoundment Management Plan Committee. The discussion on the plan lasted more than an hour and every member on the council used his or her entire allotted speaking times.
The Ann Arbor Environmental Commission formed the Huron River and Impoundment Management Plan Committee three years ago to formulate recommendations on how to handle the Huron River.
Hohnke opened the discussion by proposing an amendment to the resolution to add a clause to move forward on proposals passed with broad support by City Council members by forwarding the proposals to the HRIMPC. At the same time, proposals with less consensus would be further discussed by councilmembers and HIRMPC would present suggestions to City Council on how to do so at a later time.
“We don’t have resources right now to do what we want to do, but we have a good start,” Hohnke said. “So let’s move forward with those others.”
Hohkne said that a lot of time has been spent trying to decide what needs to be done with the river, and now the focus needs to be directed toward how those decisions are going to be enacted.
Mayor John Hiefjte, who said he was unable to support a proposal without a timeframe, proposed that the amendment be given a one year time period until the committee be forced to have a final proposal for the council. The suggestion was passed unanimously.
Hieftje added if the council had been voting on the status of the Argo Dam last night, he would have voted to keep it.
Argo Dam is currently one of the most controversial issues around Ann Arbor. Councilmember Sabra Briere (D–Ward 1) stated that the dam has caused such serious division within the city that neighbors have stopped speaking to each other.
City Council decided that Argo Dam was too divided of an issue for them to decide on at the time. The AAEC decided that the dam should be removed by a majority vote. The Park Advisory Commission decided the dam should be kept, also by a majority vote.
Many Ann Arbor citizens spoke at the meeting during the public commentary portion, which preceded the discussion of the resolution, to express their views on the issue to their council members and urged them to vote consciously.
Ann Arbor resident David Barret, discussed reasons why the dam shouldn’t be removed. He closed his remarks by asking the council to “view the resolution with skepticism.”
John Rubin, another Ann Arbor resident, argued why the dam should be removed.
“Dams are inherently bad for rivers because they alter the flow function,” Rubin said.
By taking out Argo Dam, the land would provide 28 acres of parkland, which he said was a much better use of the property.