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Posted on Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 8:30 a.m.

Ann Arbor City Council to discuss medical marijuana non-disclosure policy, solar panels and more tonight

By Ryan J. Stanton

The Ann Arbor City Council will have its plate full when it meets at 7 tonight inside the Washtenaw County administration building at 220 N. Main St.

Here's a quick glance at what's on the agenda:

Medical marijuana non-disclosure policy

Council members are expected to continue discussions of a proposed medical marijuana licensing ordinance, which outlines regulations for dispensaries and cultivation facilities.

Additionally, Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, is sponsoring a new resolution to adopt a city policy of non-disclosure of certain medical marijuana information. It comes in response to concerns raised by medical marijuana advocates in recent weeks.


The Ann Arbor City Council will discuss a medical marijuana licensing ordinance as well as a new non-disclosure policy at tonight's meeting.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The resolution states that the following information — if provided to the city as part of the zoning or licensing process — will be protected against public disclosure:

  • The name, address and date of birth of any qualifying patient.
  • The name, address and date of birth of a qualifying patient's primary caregiver.
  • The name, address and telephone number of a qualifying patient's physician.
  • Any designation as to whether a qualifying patient or primary caregiver will be allowed under state law to possess marijuana plants for a qualifying patient's medical use.
  • The names or other identifying information of persons to whom the Michigan Department of Community Health has issued registry identification cards.

The related licensing ordinance has been amended multiple times since it was introduced to the council’s agenda in early December. Council members have delayed voting to move the ordinance past first reading several times as they've continued to rework the language.

  • Click here to download the last draft posted to the city's website.

"Each amendment has, I believe, brought some improvements to the document," Briere wrote in an e-mail to constituents over the weekend. "At least, that’s been the intent. Members of council and members of the staff have learned more about medical marijuana in the ensuing months, but there is probably more to learn."

Briere, who has taken a lead role on the medical marijuana issue, said the goal is to decide what would work best for the health, safety and welfare of the community, while writing legislation that supports the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act and the City Charter.

Solar panels for Fire Station No. 6

The council will vote on a $51,480 contract with Huron Valley Electric to install solar electric and solar thermal systems at Fire Station No. 6, located near Briarwood Mall.

The contract would have the local company install an 8-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system and a solar domestic hot water system. The project is funded entirely by the city's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The installation would start June 1 and be completed by the end of June. The solar electric system is expected to produce $1,000 annually in electricity and the solar hot water system is expected to meet 55 percent of the station's hot water needs, for an additional annual savings of $430. Electricity would be used to offset the fire station's electric use on sunny days.

The city is purchasing the photovoltaic collectors for the project separately from the construction contract with Huron Valley Electric. Andrew Brix, the city's energy programs manager, said in a memo that's because the manufacturer, Uni-Solar, has agreed to sell solar collectors at a greatly reduced cost to the city based on its Solar America Cities Partnership.

The Uni-Solar photovoltaic purchase will be brought to City Council under a separate resolution at a later date, Brix said.

Ann Arbor's new PACE program

Council will be asked to approve establishing a $482,800 loan loss reserve fund to be used in conjunction with the city's planned Property Assessed Clean Energy program.

Funds were previously budgeted from the city's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for this purpose.

The PACE program — currently under development — will allow the city to finance voluntary energy improvements to private properties through special assessments.

The loan loss reserve will allow the city to leverage a much larger pool of private funding (approximately 10 times more) for PACE projects and reduce interest rates for participating property owners by covering a portion of delinquent or defaulted payments, Brix said.

Establishing the loan loss reserve fund, he said, is an important step in creating a strong community energy program to meet City Council's energy challenge goal of a 20 percent reduction of community-wide greenhouse gas emissions (from 2000 levels) by 2015.

LED street lights

The council will be asked to approve a $315,968 purchase of 500 new LED "cobra head" streetlight fixtures from Farmington Hills-based Lumecon LLC.


LED street lights illuminate Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor on Friday night.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The new lights will be installed on the arterial roads in the city, which city officials say is the third and final phase of the LED conversion process for city-owned streetlights.

However, many of the street lights in Ann Arbor are owned by DTE Energy and the city remains in talks with the company about converting those. In order to achieve energy and maintenance savings, the city began converting all city-owned streetlights to LED fixtures in 2007. Crews began with the conversion of 1,000 downtown streetlights through a grant from the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. In June 2010, the City Council authorized moving on to Phase II of the LED-conversion process for a remaining 800 city-owned streetlights. The city was able to purchase 250 LED cobra head fixtures, which are in the process of being installed. Tonight's resolution would approve the installation of another 500 over the course of eight months.

The city expects to see a 50-70 percent savings in energy and maintenance.

Downtown parcel redevelopment plan

Three council members who have been in negotiations with the DDA since last year are bringing back a resolution that would authorize the Ann Arbor DDA to develop an implementation plan to redevelop downtown properties owned by the city.

The so-called parcel-by-parcel plan is being supported by Council Members Christopher Taylor, Margie Teall and Carsten Hohnke.

"The DDA is uniquely structured to develop an overarching strategy to develop city-owned downtown properties, to facilitate the process of writing/distributing effective RFPs and RFQs to solicit developer proposals, and to facilitate bringing to City Council proposed development projects on city-owned properties," the resolution reads.

With multiple council members citing concerns, consideration of the resolution was postponed back in January.

  • Click here to view the latest version of the resolution.

Washtenaw Avenue improvements

The council will hold a public hearing to seek input on the creation of a Washtenaw Avenue Corridor Improvement Authority, a new district that would involve capturing property taxes along the corridor to help finance future redevelopment efforts.

No action is being taken tonight. The city's planning staff said in a memo to council they will continue to collect feedback and information. Staff intends to arrange a special council working session later this year to provide a summary and to ask for direction.

The city has released a 58-page document titled "Washtenaw Avenue Corridor Redevelopment Strategy."

Parks and Recreation Open Space Plan

The council will hold a public hearing on the 2011-2015 Parks and Recreation Open Space Plan, also known as the city's PROS Plan. The plan also is up for approval tonight.

City staff writes in a memo that the PROS Plan "is a guiding document for the parks and recreation system. It provides a vision for the future, an overview of services and programs, an inventory of parkland and amenities, an explanation of the budget and land acquisition process, and the long-term goals of the park system. As an element of the city of Ann Arbor Master Plan, the PROS Plan is considered a vital piece of the larger vision for the city."

Arbor Oaks water mains

The council will vote on a $35,230 contract for construction materials testing with TES Consultants for the Arbor Oaks Water Main Project. This project consists of the replacement of the water mains in the majority of the Arbor Oaks subdivision and subsequent resurfacing of the streets. The city received proposals from 10 firms for the required construction materials testing services. City staff evaluated the proposals and selected TES Consultants. "Services to be performed include all the required testing for soils, aggregates, asphalt, and concrete," Homayoon Pirooz of the city's project management unit wrote in a memo.

Buhr Park steel paint

The council will vote on a contract with the Rickman Enterprise Group to paint the steel structure of the Buhr Park Ice Arena.

The contract totals $85,300, plus another $8,530 in construction contingency. No major work has been done to the steel structure since its construction in 1991, according to landscape architect Amy Kuras. Because of the harsh outdoor conditions and humidity caused by the ice rink, portions of the steel are showing signs of rust and deterioration, Kuras said.

"Cleaning and repainting the structure before it becomes severely deteriorated will prolong the life of the steel structure and avoid expensive replacement and major maintenance in the near future," Kuras wrote in a memo. "The new paint is projected to last at least 10-15 years."

Water and sewer bonds

Two bond issuances are on the agenda for approval — $755,000 for upgrades to the city's water supply system and nearly $1.4 million for upgrades to the sewage disposal system.

The interest rate on the bonds is 2.5 percent.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.


Tom Whitaker

Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 8:49 p.m.

The resolution to hand over management of the development process for City-owned lots linked to in the article is the same resolution as presented 1-18-11. This resolution was only postponed, so it will need to be moved again tonight as first presented before it can be amended or substituted. I haven't heard any public discussion of proposed changes to the resolution. I guess tonight, we'll all find out together what has been discussed in private in this regard over the past couple of months. Had it been voted on last time, it would have failed to pass. Personally, I think it would be foolish, after all the parcel development failures of the recent past, for the City and DDA to go headlong into yet another narrowly-focused effort like this, even if the process may be some improvement. Downtown needs a comprehensive and sustainable economic development plan first. That in turn should help identify appropriate strategies for the various City-owned parcels, perhaps with some specific uses in mind. Parcels that should retain a public use, whether it be a park, parking lot, or some other civic function, should be identified and kept in City hands. Those with value as potential private development sites should be sold with agreements as to their use that are aligned with specific goals (like more people living downtown). Currently, I simply don't trust the City and DDA to decide what is best for the property that we collectively own. The current chair of the DDA thinks anyone with the audacity to question big developments is a "sulker" and the City's current RFP effort to put a hotel/conference center on the library lot has only been transparent in its overtly obvious attempts to justify a pre-ordained conclusion.


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 5:06 p.m.

Solar Panels- Spend $51k to save $1.4k. That will take 36 YEARS to recover the cost. I don't get it. Other than making ourselves 'feel' good why are we doing this again? Does A2 really have that kind of extra resources? Glad I don't pay A2 taxes, but I will think of this waste everytime I come to A2


Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 8:36 p.m.

I also question how this was written. "The project is funded entirely by the city's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy" Then "The city is purchasing the photovoltaic collectors for the project separately from the construction contract with Huron Valley Electric." So what's the final cost in this mystery project?