MINUTES OF BOARD MEETING (ANNUAL MEETING)
TRUSTEES OF BARTON HILLS VILLAGE
May 16, 2006
The regular meeting of the Board of Trustees was called to order by President Laporte at 7:04 PM at Barton Hills Country Club.
ROLL CALL Present: Trustees Al-Awar, Boddie, Bogat, Butterwick, Laporte, Lindstrom, MacKrell, Perry and Wilkes; Atty. Reading, Asst. Treas. Redies and Supt. Esch; BHMC President Bultman, BHMC Directors Kelly, Paluszny, Quarton, Stubbs and Surovell; architect Lincoln Poley and 10 residents. Absent: None.
WILKES FENCE APPLICATION The application for addition to an existing fence at the Wilkes' home was reviewed. (Mr. Wilkes recused himself from the discussion/vote.) Proper notification was sent as required by Section 4.05 of the BHV Zoning Ordinance.
Ms. Laporte read a letter from neighbors Ron and Eileen Weiser stating they had no objection to the addition.
MOTION Mrs. MacKrell moved to approve the application from James and Mary Ann Wilkes to add not more than three sections to an existing fence on their property at 805 Colliston Road, such fence being of like nature and appearance as the existing fence.
Mr. Boddie seconded; the motion carried.
The Board of Trustees meeting was set aside for the Board of Zoning Appeals.
BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS
BARTON HILLS VILLAGE
May 16, 2006
The Board of Zoning Appeals was convened at 7:07 PM at Barton Hills Country Club to hear the request for variance to place light piers in the setback of the house being constructed at 280 Barton North Drive, owned by Louis Probst/ Katherine Klein (tabled from the March 20, 2006 BZA meeting). Present: Trustees Al-Awar, Boddie, Bogat, Butterwick, Laporte, Lindstrom, MacKrell and Wilkes; Atty. Reading, Asst. Treas. Redies and Supt. Esch; BHMC President Bultman, architect Lincoln Poley and 15 residents. Absent: Trustee Perry.
Mr. Poley reviewed the project, noting that the set back line, property line and proposed location of the piers had been staked as requested (Trustees were notified by email so they could visit the site prior to the meeting). One pier would be about 2' from the property line with the other pier about 12', with 16' in between the piers to allow for emergency vehicle entrance. The piers would be about 4' tall with 16" light fixtures made of copper and yellowish art glass. The lights would be a maximum of 20 watts, designed to be markers to indicate the location of the driveway. The need for such markers was questioned, as most driveways in BHV are not marked this prominently. Mr. Poley noted that the piers were consistent with other piers farther up the driveway. The method of measuring the location of the piers was also questioned; Mr. Poley stated that the white stakes marking the lot corners were used as reference points.
MOTION Mr. Al-Awar moved to deny the request for variance presented on behalf of Louis Probst/Katherine Klein for construction of light piers within the set back at 280 Barton North Drive, based on lack of establishing practical difficulty or hardship that would require the location of the piers as requested. Mr. Butterwick seconded; the motion carried.
The Board of Zoning Appeals meeting was closed, and the Board of Trustees meeting reconvened at 7:18 PM.
MOTION Mr. Wilkes moved that the minutes of the April 17, 2006 Trustees meeting be approved as printed. Mrs. MacKrell seconded; the motion carried.
Ms. Laporte welcomed those present, explaining that the format of the meeting will allow a major portion of the time to be focused on the Village Administration Center project so residents have opportunity to participate in the discussion. Members of the VAC Committee were introduced (Trustees Lindstrom (Chair), Al-Awar and Butterwick, BHMC Director Hescheles (absent) and residents John MacKrell (absent) and Betsy Teeter) along with consultant Shannan Gibb-Randall from InSite Design Studio.
PUBLIC BUDGET HEARING
BARTON HILLS VILLAGE
May 16, 2006
The Public Budget Hearing was convened at 7:30 PM at Barton Hills Country Club. Present: Trustees Al-Awar, Boddie, Bogat, Butterwick, Laporte, Lindstrom, MacKrell and Wilkes; Atty. Reading, Asst. Treas. Redies and Supt. Esch; BHMC President Bultman and 27 residents. Absent: Trustee Perry.
Ms. Laporte stated that a synopsis of the Barton Hills Village and Barton Hills Maintenance Corporation 2006-2007 proposed budget was distributed to all residents (see Barton Bulletin Vol. LII No. 5) and invited comments from the public. There being no questions or comments, the public hearing was closed at 7:32 PM.
The Board of Trustees meeting was reconvened. Mr. Perry arrived.
FINANCE Mrs. Redies read the cash balances as of May 16, 2006:
Checking Account $ 2,581
Total General Fund $569,679
Public Improvement Reserve Fund
Motor Vehicle Highway Fund
Bank One Govt. Trust Account $ 283,119
Bank One CD 100,000
Bank of Ann Arbor 121,057
Ann Arbor Commerce Bank CD 109,776
United Bank & Trust Washtenaw 100,715
Flagstar Bank CD 100,000
Total Savings $ 814,667
Mrs. Redies distributed updated copies of the budget. Mr. Boddie noted that a few minor changes were made, but that the budget was substantially the same as the synopsis included with the Barton Bulletin (Vol. LII, No. 5) and was still a balanced budget with more revenue than expenses. Ms. Laporte added that the current millage rate of 10 mills continues as it has for several years, explaining that rising home values result in more tax revenues for operating expenses while the millage rate remains the same. In response to a question, Mr. Boddie clarified that funds listed in savings are actually in Certificates of Deposit (CD's) and that more effort is being made to put these funds in a variety of federally insured CD's with competitive interest rates.
MOTION Mr. Boddie moved that a millage rate of 10.000 mills be levied to generate $524,100 in village taxes for operating expenses, and that the amended 2005-2006 budget and proposed 2006-2007 budget be approved. (See Aux. Book XI D). Mr.
Al-Awar seconded; the motion carried.
COMMITTEE REPORTS Written committee reports were distributed to the residents in the Barton Bulletin (Vol. LII, No. 5). There were no comments or questions from the audience regarding the reports.
MOTION Mrs. MacKrell moved that the annual committee reports be accepted as submitted. Mr. Wilkes seconded; the motion carried.
PUBLIC COMMENT Ms. Laporte welcomed residents and invited comments or questions.
--When is the village picnic? Ms. Bogat (Recreation Committee Chair) replied that the picnic will be held on Sunday, June 25, 2006 beginning at 4:00 PM at the Village Green and welcomed suggestions for the event.
--It is time to resurface the tennis courts. Ms. Laporte responded that the Trustees were aware of this need but because the discussion of the VAC project included possible sites in that area, no action had been taken yet.
--What are the plans for the swimming pool? Ms. Laporte replied that both BHV and BHMC have discussed this issue, since BHMC owns the property but leases it to BHV who subleased it to Barton Swim Club. The pool was built in 1969 with an expected lifespan of 20 years. Maintenance costs in recent years have risen to the point where the pool did not open last summer and the Barton Swim Club no longer exists. It has been determined that BHV would not run a public pool, but that it would be helpful to offer residents specific information about the cost of replacing the pool if another private group were formed. BHMC President Bultman asked for a show of hands from those present to indicate if there might be interest in improving the pool. Enough people responded to support further investigation of the issue.
NEW BUSINESS None.
PUBLIC FORUM--VILLAGE ADMINISTRATION CENTER Ms. Laporte introduced Trustee Wayne Lindstrom, Chair of the Village Administration Center (VAC) Committee, expressing appreciation to him and the committee for their outstanding efforts on this project. Mr. Lindstrom referred to the two-page VAC Committee report distributed to the residents with the Barton Bulletin prior to the meeting, stating that the committee has determined that a general building size of 1,600-1,800 square feet would meet the needs of the community. The task for discussion now is choosing a site for the building. Once that is settled, the details of construction, appearance and so on concerning the building would be explored in relation to the site selected. The committee has evaluated several possible sites according to a list of criteria, and narrowed the choices to three, none of which are perfect. The committee then interviewed several professionals and decided to hire InSite Design Studio to provide a review of the sites and give input from their perspective.
InSite consultant Shannan Gibb-Randall met with the committee and conducted an independent review of the three sites, using the committee's list of criteria plus some factors she added. Ms. Gibb-Randall presented a summary of her written report, indicating the three sites on a display map.
1) Village Green. This site offers the most prominent location for a building with a community gathering place identity at the gateway to the village. It would be very visible and would have moderate impact on views, especially as one enters through the Lower Gate on Barton Shore Drive. The long view from that direction is unique and wouldn't be common in modern development, but is in keeping with the Olmsted philosophy of promoting natural features. The Village Green site would require more landscaping and consideration of the type of building constructed to be worthy of the gateway character of this site. The area is a "trapped watershed" where the surface is lower than the adjoining roadway and stormwater has nowhere to go. A rain garden would be recommended to lead excess water into the ground through use of vegetation, requiring an area about 70' in diameter, compared with areas of 30' in diameter needed for handling stormwater at the other two sites.
2) California Avenue. This site is not recommended, mostly due to safety and liability issues. It would be unwise to purposely plan for the access road to go through the maintenance area where trucks are backing out into traffic. Even though there is little traffic now, future use may increase considerably. This site also presents a very weak public face, as if guests were invited to enter a home through the broom closet.
3) Garden. This site is recommended based on visibility of the building without impact on the long view from Barton Shore Drive. Existing vegetation provides a lovely setting with little impact on the maintenance area. The most obvious difficulty is the location of the landmark oak tree, making it necessary to site the driveway in the narrow area between the tree drip line and the gas pumps. There is no way to know what will happen to the tree. It is very old but appears to be quite healthy, and the driveway would only skirt the drip line by a few feet. Fencing of the area to prevent construction machinery from driving/parking on the tree roots would help. Based on previous experience, the tree has an excellent chance of survival. When other factors are considered, the Garden Site is favored over the other two choices.
--The Village Green site seems more open--isn't the Garden site also hidden? Response: The Garden site is less open than the Village Green, but more visible than California Avenue. Existing vegetation will provide a beautiful backdrop, and the branches of the oak tree are high enough for the building to be seen. Landscaping can also screen the maintenance area a bit more.
--If the Village Green site is used, there are still the maintenance buildings in the background. Response: The maintenance buildings are an issue with all the sites and would need to be addressed. The area would not be cut off, but could be screened to make it less obvious and more attractive.
--What would be the differences between the three sites in terms of cost for stormwater control and roads? Response: The Village Green site would cost more for stormwater control, but much less for driveway expenses. The access road to the Garden site would be longer, but stormwater control would be less. The California Avenue site would be the least expensive due to existing utilities and roads, but the liability costs would be much greater. Detailed cost analysis was not part of the consultation, but none of these factors is astronomically different from one site to another.
--Do all the sites perk? Response: Yes, all three sites have been tested and would be acceptable.
--The Garden site can't be seen from Barton Shore Drive. Response: That depends on how visible you want to make it. The building is intended to provide office, records storage and meeting space, but not to be a community center for other activities. The three sites were chosen because of their proximity to the maintenance area, since there are interrelated tasks between the maintenance and administrative staff. The goal is to be cost effective more than making a statement.
--Then the California Avenue site seems most cost effective. Response: True, but the liability factor is potentially large. All of the sites meet the major points of the 20-25 criteria used to evaluate the possible locations for functionality, so other factors must now be judged.
--I would like a community center. Response: That's why we're asking--are we on the right track? When the plan included more of the community center aspect, it was not supported by the residents due to the cost.
--What does the VAC Committee prefer? Response: At the last meeting, 5 of the 6 committee members were in attendance. All 5 favored the Garden site.
--If the committee has devoted time and energy to study this question, it seems stupid to choose something other than what they have concluded. Response: True, but maybe the committee chose the right site for the wrong reasons. That's why it's important to have community input like this.
--Thinking about future use of the building, would you advocate a lesser building on the Village Green site? Response: A less expensive building could be sited there, but it would take more time and landscaping to make it look like it belonged. Such a prominent site would not necessarily require a fabulous structure, but more would need to be invested in landscaping.
--More landscaping would provide more deer food. Response: The evergreens by the pool took many years to be so lovely. However, landscaping by the water tower is looking nice in about five years.
--The Village Green site would eliminate the play area and the lovely green vista. Response: The ballfield is not regulation size anyway. A similar ballfield could be sited on the other side of the Green, near the tennis courts.
--Will there be a lot of difference in cost of the project depending on the site chosen? Response: A cost analysis hasn't been done, and there will be differences, but not a huge difference between the various sites.
--Are there other ways to address the safety issues of the active maintenance area? Response: Ideally there would be a buffer of some kind, but that isn't feasible with all the sites. Another road could be constructed from Barton Shore Drive but that wasn't considered in this review.
--As a landscape architect you have strong feelings about aesthetics. Any further comments? Response: Effort is needed to make the building look like it belongs on the site. This will be easier to do in the Garden site. Also, thinking from the perspective of the Olmsted values, the Garden site most closely fits those values.
--We don't need a community center--we have the Country Club and even though public meetings have to be held in public, private groups prefer private homes so the building won't get enough use to warrant the expense of a fancy building.
--Those with young children might think differently about wanting community space. If record storage is the only need, why spend a lot of money at all? Response: It is estimated that about 40% of the records are in regular use, with the greater amount more for reference or historical use. We are required to keep our records safe but we don't have enough to store off-site economically. Getting things out of employee homes and into a common facility will enable the staff to function more efficiently.
--Please comment on the security issues relevant to the three sites. Response: There are concerns due to the proximity of the city parks and past experiences, but it doesn't seem like the risk is extraordinarily high. An office building is not as desirable a target as private homes for burglary, especially with security equipment in place. Vandalism is a risk, but that is true of any of the buildings in the area. The Garden site doesn't have a significantly higher risk than the other two sites.
--The Garden site seems more remote and hidden than the other sites.
--Is camping allowed on the city property? Response: Camping is not allowed in any city park.
--This presentation has been great. The Village Green site seems closer to the former plan that we thought was too grandiose. Is the Garden site less expensive? Response: The California Avenue site is cheaper but the potential liability is huge. There are varying costs for all the sites, but not a significant difference to base a decision on cost alone.
--We have been discussing this issue for a long time (since I was a young man) and have been unable to come to a decision. We need to conduct our public business in a public manner and even though we're very private we need to be accessible to the public during normal business hours. We have imposed on the employees long enough and need to get on with this project. Barton Hills was designed by the most famous landscape architect of the period and the Garden site would carry on that heritage. At any rate we need to stop bickering and accept our responsibility to build something that is modest but attractive and substantial. Vandalism is a risk for all public buildings. If the professional consultant and the committee who have studied this issue in depth both favor the Garden site, as well as the participants in the straw vote, then let's get on with what we need to do. (Public applause)
--What is the next step? Response: We will ask for an informal show-of-hands tonight, and the committee will assess the comments from this meeting. In June the committee will meet with the BHV and BHMC Boards in another joint session, with hopes of recommending a site selection that both boards can support. Then the committee will investigate the costs of the building, landscaping and so on, hopefully with the continued involvement of InSite Designs. At some point a vote of the BHMC shareholders will be needed to approve the land ownership transfer--this will be done when a more complete plan has been developed. Widespread community involvement will be needed to assure support, as a failure to vote is the same as a "no" vote. It would be better for the vote to fail based on the project itself rather than apathy.
--What about Barton Hills Country Club? Response: They have 7 shareholder votes, and didn't participate in the last vote, but they will be well informed and encouraged to participate this time.
--Can we use absentee ballots? Response: Not as such, but proxies can be used. There is a difference--with absentee ballots there it no option to change a vote based on developments that may occur at the meeting when the vote is taken. Assigning a person to vote a proxy authorizes them to represent you and vote accordingly.
--How long before construction could begin? Response: It is estimated that the design phase will take 6-9 months, and the construction 9-12 months. If the project continues to move ahead, it is possible the building could be up by fall 2007.
Resident Cyndy Colton commended InSite Design for the landscaping they completed at her home on Barton Shore Drive, adding that they were marvelous to work with and based their design on the historical perspective of the Olmsted firm. Appreciation was also expressed to the VAC Committee and all who have worked on this issue for a long period of time. Mr. Lindstrom asked for a show of hands to indicate general feelings about the three sites. Three or four hands were raised in support of the Village Green site, three or four in support of the California and a much larger number in support of the Garden site.
Ms. Laporte expressed appreciation to all in attendance and turned the leadership of the gathering over to BHMC President Bultman. The meeting of the BHV Board of Trustees was adjourned at 8:57 PM.
Jan Esch, Assistant Clerk