In a 10:1 vote, the Ann Arbor City Council has approved contributing over half of the $478,867 cost of preserving the 75 acre Lepkowski farm at 7084 Spencer Road.

MLive: Ann Arbor officials have change of heart about preserving family farm - Ryan Stanton, 2-20-2019

Before Northfield Township voted to contribute $2,000 and Washtenaw County agreed to contribute $10,000, Ann Arbor had been on the hook for approximately 55.3% of the $479K cost.   Less the - according to MLive - USDA grant of $213,750, plus the township and country contributions, Ann Arbor will now pony up $253,117, 52.8% of the total.

The base price of the conservation easement was $5,700/acre.

After this allocation, over 3/4 of a million dollars in U.S. Department of Agriculture funding remains available for conserving greenbelt land outside the Ann Arbor City Limits.

 

Some backstory:

MLive: This is it for us,’ farmer tells Ann Arbor officials in emotional plea - Ryan Stanton, 1-24-2019

 

 

by David Gordon

Feb. 15, 2019

The Northfield Township Board of Trustees (BoT) last night approved a $2,000 contribution to a local land preservation deal in an effort to get A2 City Council approval of the Greenbelt-recommended property.

In January, the Council rejected the Greenbelt recommendation to preserve the 75-acre Lepkowski farm at 7084 Spencer Road.

It’s the first time the Council has rejected a recommendation since the Greenbelt millage was approved by Ann Arbor voters in 2003.

See mlive story here:

MLive: Ann Arbor council rejects 75-acre greenbelt purchase in 7-4 vote - Ryan Stanton, Jan. 11, 2019

Council members who voted against the project noted that Northfield Township had not made a contribution and that A2 was shouldering 54% of the $478,867 purchase of development rights. (54%=$258,588)

Responding to lobbying efforts from residents throughout the county, including Northfield Neighbors and some BoT members, the Council revisited its decision and postponed final action until its next meeting on February 19th.

Northfield Treasurer Lenore Zelenock said “the Board has made a good faith effort to preserve an active farm in Northfield township at a minimal cost and get a return on our federal tax dollars.”

Zelenock, Clerk Kathy Manley, Supervisor Marlene Chockley and Trustee Janet Chick voted in favor of the $2k expense.

Trustees Wayne Dockett and Jacki Otto voted against.

This is the first time the BoT has approved spending tax dollars to support a farm preservation property.

“Many residents have said preservation is important to them” said Zelenock. “The board is acting on the residents input, at a minimal cost and for a great public value,” she added.

Last week Washtenaw County agreed to contribute $10,000 with the hopes it will sway the Council.

Thaddeus and Margaret Lepkowski and their daughter Michele and son-in-law Dale Woolford, raise horses and cattle on the land.

The Woolfords returned to Michigan from N. Carolina with their herd late last year expecting that the Greenbelt money would enable them to continue farming.

They plan to sell their beef at local Farmers Markets.

MLive photos of the Lepkowski farm, the Woolfords, and their cattle here - Jacob Hamilton, Jan. 23, 2019

Aerial photos and maps showing Ann Arbor greenbelt overlain on adjacent Townships, and the farm location.

We will follow up on this unfolding story after the A2 Council meeting Feb. 19.

Other than Treasurer Zelenock, no Board member accepted our invitation to comment.

 

Resources: 

Map of the Ann Arbor Greenbelt in pdf form.  The map shows Greenbelt boundaries, properties, and other properties protected by conservation easements.  That this is in a native pdf form means you can zoom in.  The last planning commission meeting discussed this issue, specifically with regard to our Planner's use of poor quality jpgs to document his work.

Ann Arbor Greenbelt Home page.

Click to download the Greenbelt 2018 Annual Report

 

 

 

 

Long story short, in a 4:2 vote, the Northfield Township Board of Trustees approved contributing $2,000.00 to the Lepkowski farm preservation effort.

Trustee Dockett objected and voted NO for a new reason, calling the $2,000.00 "payola."  The meaning of his reference to 1950s era music industry graft was lost on other Boardmembers. It was lost on me. It was probably lost on anyone watching the livestream.

Trustee Otto's stated reasons for voting NO:

  • See David Gordon's report.  

Tonight's heroine: Trustee Janet Chick. She resists great pressure with an open mind.

 

Background

On the February 12th regular Township Board meeting Agenda was the proposal that the Township contribute a symbolic $2,000 pittance toward the almost $500,000 cost of preserving 75 acres of rural land. Ann Arbor would have borne the lion's share of the local contribution but the Ann Arbor City Council voted against bringing this particular farm into their greenbelt. Their stated objection centered on the lack of any interest or contribution by Northfield Township. In years past, Northfield Township has gloatingly, publiclly taken some fairly provincial and churlish positions about Land Preservation and Ann Arbor's Greenbelt project. Former Supervisor Deb Mozurkowich infamously talked the Board into publishing a smug, self-satisfied, sneering public resolution laughing off Ann Arbor's extended hand.

The February 12th meeting was cancelled by the Supervisor. Four Trustees notified Supervisor Chockley that they would not attend. Thus there would be no quorum, no way to convene the meeting or to vote. Rumor had it that the reason they were ducking the meeting was the problematic land preservation agenda item, the $2,000.00 Lepkowski farm contribution.

Also on February 12th meeting agenda was the required monthly approval to pay the Township's bills, in this case over $105,000.00.

In other words, by not meeting Trustees had shut down local government - a proud moment mirroring the childish behavior of players in D.C..  People should be embarrassed.

For those of you capable of elementary math, obtaining almost half a million of rural land conservation for an investment of $2,000 is an approximately 250:1 leverage of township tax dollars.

Do the Trustees who shut down Northfield Township government have a better tax dollar return in mind?

 

Resources: 

Map of the Ann Arbor Greenbelt in pdf form.  The map shows Greenbelt boundaries, properties, and other properties protected by conservation easements.  That this is in a native pdf form means you can zoom in.  The last planning commission meeting discussed this issue, specifically with regard to our Planner's use of poor quality jpgs to document his work.

Ann Arbor Greenbelt Home page.

Click to download the Greenbelt 2018 Annual Report

 

 

Below is the resolution adopted by the Ann Arbor City Council before approval of the 2003 Greenbelt millage renewal.

 

 

R-377-9-03

RESOLUTION ENDORSING STANDARDS FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF PROCEDURAL GUIDELINES

FOR A PARKS AND GREENBELT OPEN SPACE PROGRAM

IF APPROVED BY THE VOTERS OF ANN ARBOR ON NOVEMBER 4, 2003

 

Whereas, Uncoordinated development in the areas around Ann Arbor has adversely affected the quality of life in Ann Arbor leading to:

  • Fragmented open space and wildlife habitat

  • Loss of productive farmland and forestland

  • Destruction of rural beauty which is part of the character of Ann Arbor

  • Decline in water quality due to an increase in polluted runoff in the Huron River watershed, and the loss of wetlands

  • Increased auto dependency, fuel consumption, and air pollution

  • Relocation of jobs to peripheral areas

  • Increased traffic congestion, commuting times and costs

  • Overcrowded schools

  • Excessive public costs for school construction, roads and utility extensions to dispersed development

 

Whereas, On August 18, 2003, the Ann Arbor City Council by resolution determined that a need existed for a Parks and Greenbelt Open Space Program for the acquisition and management of land and land rights in and around the Ann Arbor community through taxes pledged to the Program;

 

Whereas, The Ann Arbor City Council has adopted the necessary resolution to place amendment of Section 8.23 of the City Charter on the November 4, 2003 ballot to authorize a one-half mill tax for 30 years to replace the existing Land Acquisition Millage of one-half mil that expires in 2004; and

Whereas, The Ann Arbor City Council desires to publicly state its intention to establish standards for procedural guidelines for a parks and greenbelt open space program if approved by the voters of Ann Arbor on November 4, 2003, consistent with the following:

 

  1. Millage revenues shall be used to purchase land and conservation easements both within the City limits and inside a greenbelt boundary line outside of the City for the preservation of open space. The proposed greenbelt boundary lines are identified on the attached map and more specifically described as: bordered on the north by a line beginning at the intersection of Zeeb Road and North Territorial Road, extending eastward to Five Mile and Curtis Road; then south to Prospect Street and Clark Road; then west along Clark Road to Golfside Drive; then south to the intersection of Munger and Morgan Road; then west to the intersection of Zeeb Road and Pleasant Lake Road; then north along Zeeb Road to the intersection of Zeeb Road and North Territorial Road.

     

  2. Millage revenues will continue to be used for the acquisition of parkland as previously approved under the existing millage. It is expected that approximately one-third of the millage revenues will be used for purchases within the City and approximately two-thirds for purchases in the Greenbelt area.

     

  3. Millage revenues may be used to make bond payments for bonds issued for any land or land right acquisitions in connection with the Program to allow timely acquisition/preservation of greenbelt properties.

     

  4. Recommendation to City Council concerning the acquisition of land, land rights and conservation easements within the City shall be requested from Parks Advisory Commission (PAC).

     

  5. Recommendation to City Council concerning the acquisition of land, land rights and conservation easements for the preservation of open space outside the City shall be requested from a Greenbelt Advisory Commission (GAC) to be created by City Council consisting of nine members, appointed by City Council. The members of the Commission shall include individuals with the following expertise or affiliation: environmental/conservation organization representative (2 members), agricultural land owner/agricultural business operator (1 member), real estate development professional (1 member), plant or animal biologist (1 member), public-at-large (3 members), Ann Arbor City Council member. A minimum of six members shall be residents of the City of Ann Arbor, and shall serve without pay. The organization and procedures of the Commission shall be consistent with Chapter 8 of the Ann Arbor City Code.

     

  6. Purchases of land, land rights and conservation easements outside the City for the preservation of open space will whenever possible or practicable be made using all available funding sources, such as joint purchase agreements with property owners, townships, cities, Washtenaw County; grant funds available from the State of Michigan and the federal government; conservancy and land trusts. For transactions outside the city, purchases will be favored in which the City of Ann Arbor's share of the cost is no more than one-third of the land's appraised value. Acquisitions in which a township or city provides funds will be favored. The principal acquisition method is anticipated to be conservation easements.

     

  7. Purchases of land under the Program will become part of the City park system or will be maintained in accordance with the terms and conditions of the acquisition agreement between the seller and purchasers, which may be solely the City or jointly with other governmental entities, nonprofit public or private organizations (i.e., conservation organizations, land trusts ) or individuals and any other applicable agreements (i.e., grants). Whenever the City is not to be the sole owner of the property, a conservation easement or other appropriate agreement will be executed defining the rights and responsibilities of the parties.

     

  8. When created, the function of the Greenbelt Advisory Committee will be to recommend property that is located within the defined greenbelt area and has been voluntarily proposed for acquisition by application of the property owner(s). Other factors which may be considered as part of the recommendation process include the proximity to the City limits; characteristics of the property (species diversity, age of trees, presence of streams or wetlands etc.) size, proximity to other protected land; current or projected future use of adjacent property.

 

RESOLVED, That City Council endorses the establishment of procedural guidelines for a parks and greenbelt open space program if approved by the voters of Ann Arbor on November 4, 2003 consistent with the standards contained in this Resolution.

 

Sponsored: Mayor Hieftje and Council member Johnson Date: September 2, 2003

 

APPROVED

BY ANN ARBOR CITY COUNCIL

September 2, 2003

CITY CLERK. ANN ARBOR,.MI

Marijuana Ordinance Debated (It’s 10 Pages Long) &

New Industrial Biz Locates to Northfield – Approved in Two Months!

 

Jan. 16, 2019

By David Gordon

The Planning Commission last night gave the go-ahead for National Fiber Corp., a fiber optic installer, to open a facility on 10 acres just south of Alexander’s Farm Market on Whitmore Lake Road. The approval came with some minor conditions and requirements that will be hammed out by Planner Paul Lippens.

The application was made only two months ago. (Who says Northfield Township is anti-business and that our ordinances are too restrictive?)

In other business, the PC discussed “sample” marijuana regulations presented by the planner. The regulations were more than 10 pages long and it took up nearly 50 minutes of the meeting. (This ordinance seems less than “welcoming”.)

Housekeeping changes were requested by Chairman Larry Roman and several PC members questioned certain restrictions such as why marijuana “caregivers” needed to be 500 to 1000 feet from each other. And was it 500 or 1,000, since both distances were cited. And could the distance be reduced?

Planner Lippens was directed to return Feb. 6 with a reworked document.    

At the second Call to the Public, Wayne Davidson, a marijuana grower and caregiver from Midland, questioned other aspects of the proposed ordinance.   Davidson said he owns a four-acre parcel in Northfield Township and has been trying to move his operation here for more than two years, without success.

The Zoning Administrators report revealed that in the last quarter, 15 applications for new construction were approved and two were denied.

Documents: 

11 pages of proposed Marijuana Legislation

Alice's Restaurant-esque map of Marijuana cultivation and retail Zones, locations, localizations, inhibitions, prohibitions, restrictions and prescriptions, illustrated with circles, arrows, and at least a paragraph of verbosity for every pixel on your screen, explaining why you can't grow anything anywhere anytime without a million government approvals.

1-16-2019 Northfield Township Planning Commission meeting Agenda

1-16-2019 Northfield Township Planning Commission meeting packet