MINUTES OF BOARD MEETING
TRUSTEES OF BARTON HILLS VILLAGE
December 10, 2007
The regular meeting of the Board of Trustees was called to order by President Laporte at 6:07 PM at the Village Hall.
Present: Trustees Al-Awar, Boddie, Bogat,
Butterwick, Langford, Laporte, Lindstrom, MacKrell and Wilkes. Absent:
Others attending: Atty. Reading, ZPA Perry, Asst. Treasurer Redies, Supt. Esch and BHMC President Bultman.
ZONING AND PLANNING ADMINISTRATOR Mr. Perry referred to his written report for detailed explanation of the mailbox issue at 715 Oakdale Road, noting that he reviewed the situation based on safety for motorists more than specifics of the Zoning Ordinance (that allows mailboxes anywhere on the property--Sec. 4.07). He interpreted the ordinance to allow a mailbox on a wooden post similar to all the mailboxes in the village, but not a foot-square brick enclosure. Board discussion included:
--Major landscaping (patio, walls, stairs) has gone on at that address without a permit. We need to clearly communicate to the residents what the requirements are.
--Everyone has a mailbox on a post so everyone has a similar structure in a similar location. We need to be careful about overregulation. This one would be right behind a utility pole; it isn’t a major problem.
--Mailboxes are regulated to some extent by the US Postal Service.
--Mailboxes are in the right-of-way (BHMC land) rather than private property. A structure can’t be approved on someone else’s land without their permission.
--I saw this going on but didn’t call Mr. Perry (Mr. Esch first contacted him about this particular situation). Should I have? Mr. Perry’s response: I welcome any comments and am glad to look into things, even if it turns out there is no action necessary.
--If this mailbox conforms to the zoning requirements, it doesn’t need approval. If it’s considered a structure, it does. Mr. Perry’s response: I had no objection to the brick enclosure for aesthetic reasons, but felt it posed a safety hazard. Washtenaw Countyand the State of Michiganhave well-established positions against such hazards so close to the road.
--This should be considered by the Planning Commission when they review the Zoning Ordinance.
--Are we going to regulate mailboxes? We can’t move them all back to the allowed set backs.
--We refused approval of the driveway pillars at 280 Barton North Drive. This seems consistent in not having these types of structures so close to the road.
--We don’t have authority to make aesthetic judgments, only authority to enforce the zoning ordinance.
A memo from Atty. Reading concerning the establishment of a Planning Commission was distributed. Two resolutions—one to establish the commission and one to appoint members—are needed; this will probably be done at the January 2008 Trustee meeting. In response to the notice in the Barton Bulletin, three residents have expressed interest in serving on the commission: John Boyle, Sharbyn Pleban and Laura Weingartner. Board discussion included:
--One Trustee (but not the Board President) can be a member. (Several Trustees indicated interest).
--Mr. Perry will work with the group but can’t be an official member since the statute prohibits commission members from simultaneously holding another office.
--Residents have until December 20, 2007to indicate their interest in serving on the commission.
--What will be the duties of the commission? Mr. Reading’s response: There are two major responsibilities of the Planning Commission: development of a master plan and recommendation of amendments to the zoning ordinance.
--The work will be fairly time-consuming.
--Are there specific qualifications for members? Mr. Reading’s response: The statue only states that the members “shall be selected upon the basis of the members’ qualifications and fitness to serve as a member of the planning commission.”
--Do members of the commission have to be BHV residents? Mr. Reading’s response: There is no residency requirement in the statute.
--We probably wouldn’t approve a non-resident member; why would we want someone who is not a resident?
Work will continue on this issue.
PUBLIC COMMENT None.
MINUTES Motion Mrs. Langford moved that the minutes of the November 12, 2007Trustees meeting be approved as printed. Mr. Wilkes seconded; the motion carried.
FINANCE Mrs. Redies distributed the cash balances comparison report. Mr. Boddie noted that the village is in good shape financially. He then referred to an email sent to the Trustees with a spreadsheet attachment on December 9, 2007 regarding the status of the lease with BHMC. BHMC faces a deficit of about $1,600 by fiscal year end (March 31, 2008) and is asking for an increase in the lease amount. Mr. Boddie has read the lease and discussed this matter with legal counsel, and feels BHV has fulfilled its obligations under the lease. Further, he expressed concern that legal expenses for both BHV and BHMC have escalated dramatically in the past three years to the point where the combined expenses total about 5% of the budget. Referring to the discussion about the project approval process, Mr. Boddie pointed out that if BHV does not support the necessity of BHMC approval and a resident decides to refuse to adhere to the Deed Restrictions, the only recourse BHMC has is to pursue legal action, resulting in greater legal expense. Board discussion, with Mr. Boddie’s responses, included:
--What resources does BHMC have to meet its financial obligations? Other than the BHV lease, they receive income from the lease of the Boat Club property and they have power to assess the shareholders. They could possibly borrow money from another source.
--How much is the shortfall? There is currently about $800 in the checking account and $2,000 in the savings account with expected expenses of $4,400, so about $1,600 if there are no other expenses for the rest of the fiscal year. Last year total expenses were $7,586; this year to date the expenses total $13,040.
--What is the primary source of expenditure? There are predictable figures for insurance (to protect Directors from personal lawsuit), professional services (Mrs. Redies’ work as Treasurer) and miscellaneous services (Mrs. Esch’s work as Asst. Clerk and minor expenses). The variable amount is for legal services provided by Atty. Lloyd.
--Is it all attributed to the VAC project/land transfer? Yes, along with the Klingler issue.
--What action is needed? If the Trustees want to allot more funds to BHMC, a motion is required.
--There is no specific proposal before the Trustees from BHMC. They need to deal with this in relation to the rest of the year’s expenses.
--Both boards need to live more within their means, especially in relation to legal costs.
--There will always be one-time issues popping up. Both groups have spent more on the VAC project, which will be completed soon. The Colt Farms issue was dealt with by BHV and will not return, although area development will be a recurring issue.
--This is a unique situation with the public/private relationship. BHV can’t just write a check—it needs to go through the lease agreement which is already set for the year.
--Shall we wait for a BHMC proposal next month? Yes, but it shouldn’t be an “I already spent...” approach. We need to see their budget and planning, maybe an audit—how will they avoid this situation in the future?
BHMC President Bultman responded:
--Mr. Boddie noted that BHMC legal fees have escalated 500% over the past 10 years. However, if you look more closely at his spread sheet you will notice that prior to 1990-1993 legal bills were much lower. The 1990’s period was when BHMC and BHCC were involved in a dispute—one of those things that pops up periodically. The BHMC budget can’t absorb such expenses unless funds are put aside in uneventful years.
--Prior to 1994 the attorney serving BHMC was a resident who provided much of his services pro bono. When the BHCC situation arose the resident had an obvious conflict of interest as a BHCC member so he resigned and Atty. Lloyd was hired.
--In 2000 BHMC took on the necessary expense of liability insurance for its Directors which adds another part to the expenses. An analysis of past history isn’t particularly helpful when so many elements are different in the current situation.
--In 2005 BHMC requested an operating budget above taxes of $12,000 based on the expected expenses plus an amount to set aside for unexpected issues. The lease was negotiated for $7,500 plus $3,500 for legal expenses specifically related to the VAC project. BHMC thought the $3,500 would be an every-year amount, but the lease was written and signed as a one-time amount; it’s unfortunate we didn’t catch that misunderstanding at the time.
--In April 2005, BHMC wrote a letter to BHV asking to negotiate the lease that was due to expire in June 2005. Based on that request BHMC expected that the lease terms would apply to the 2005-2006 lease, but since the documents weren’t signed until December 2005, BHV interpreted the agreement as being for the 2006-2007 year with the old lease amount applicable for 2005-2006. Again this misunderstanding is unfortunate since the two groups had different expectations for the funding. BHMC negotiated in good faith, and feels that BHV should honor the agreement for the 2005-2006 year.
--As Mr. Boddie’s spreadsheet indicates, the amount BHMC received above taxes for operating expenses was $2,000 for a number of years. In 1993 this amount was raised to $6,000, then lowered to $4,000 in 1996. In 2005 BHMC requested $12,000 based on its anticipated expenses which were greater (insurance, no pro bono attorney) than in 1993.
--The BHMC Board of Directors has not had opportunity to discuss this specifically. They will do so at their meeting on Wednesday, December 12, 2007. There was not time between Mr. Boddie’s email and tonight’s meeting to call a special BHMC meeting.
--It will be difficult to produce an audit to present to BHV if BHMC has no funds with which to cover that expense.
Maintenance Area/Buildings Ms. Laporte reported on the meeting of the committee and Walter Esch to review the maintenance area. Mr. Lindstrom related the goals of the committee as follows:
1) Develop a cost effective plan to (a) improve the utilization and appearance of the existing maintenance buildings and (b) improve the utilization and appearance of the outdoor storage areas—particularly to the west of the maintenance buildings.
2) Ensure improvement plans are coordinated with the planned Village Administration Centerproject.
3) Make recommendations to the BHV Board of Trustees.
Information gathered from Mr. Esch indicates that there are three categories of materials involved: items owned by BHV, items owned by Mr. Esch and items owned by Mr. Esch that are used by BHV. Attention was given to the smallest building--the wooden tool shed next to the block maintenance building. Mr. Esch told the committee the shed was there when he began work for BHV in 1949 and was used to sell asparagus to residents. It is the only building that can be locked and is currently used to store smaller items such as road barricades/cones and tools. Mr. Esch will prepare a more detailed inventory of the items in the shed and outside the buildings. Ms. Laporte indicated that she is of the thinking that anything not in use should be disposed of; Mr. Esch countered that some things are only used occasionally but do have a use and need to be kept. He added that equipment could be rented but would be more costly. Copies of the property schedules from the BHV annual budget were distributed to indicate what equipment and vehicles are owned by the village. There are also consumable items like salt and paint, and hazardous items that must be stored until they can be properly disposed of. The goal of the committee is to understand what materials/equipment are present, how to have appropriate storage for the items and how to maintain the appearance of the area. The group is focusing first on the shed (because of its deteriorating condition) and the area behind the tin shed that will be visible to the parking area of the Village Administration Center. Mr. Lindstrom emphasized and the Trustees affirmed that no one wants to interfere with or undermine the maintenance department, which is highly valued and functioning very well. He added that there isn’t a better person to look after the village’s money and resources than Mr. Esch and that the committee is not trying to change everything. Rather, the goal is to work with Mr. Esch to plan for the inevitable decline of maintenance assets and work at things a bit at a time to keep them in good shape.
Recreation Ms. Bogat stated that BHCC has been reserved for the Annual Meeting on Tuesday, May 20, 2008 and asked if some kind of social gathering prior to the meeting would be a good idea; the Trustees agreed.
Water Mr. Wilkes had no comment on his written report.
Roads/Vehicles Mr. Al-Awar reported on the road closing conducted earlier in the day. Mr. Esch added that traffic was light, with very little in the way of cut-through traffic. It was noted that non-village traffic is more likely early in the morning or at the end of the day.
Village Administration Center Mr. Lindstrom referred to his written report, adding that preliminary quotes have been received from the three civil engineers—two for very close to $10,000 and one for a bit less. This may seem like a lot of money (hourly rate of $110-120) but that’s the market and the committee anticipated the cost level. Any of the three engineers can do the work. Mr. West is the most available and his services were most recently used. It was clarified that the contract would be a fixed price for a prepared plan, with hourly work as needed/requested by the village; also that Ms. Laporte would sign the contract. Motion Mr. Lindstrom moved that the Trustees authorize an amount not to exceed $10,000 for the Village Administration Center Committee to hire a civil engineer to develop an engineered site plan for the building, parking lot, driveway, sidewalks, septic field, utilities, drainage, etc. (everything except landscaping); further that up to $1,500 of this amount may be spent to secure the contract. Mrs. MacKrell seconded; the motion carried. Mr. Wilkes left
Ordinance Revision Ms. Laporte asked that the Trustees review the BHV Charter and submit any proposed changes to the committee by December 31, 2007.
BHMC Liaison No report.
Environmental No report.
Finance No report.
Long RangePlanning No report.
Personnel No report.
Security No report.
Zoning/ZO Revision No report.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS Bicycle Race The agreements have been signed and both BHV and U-M Cycling Club have copies. Land Transfer Deeds have been drafted and will be signed by the end of the week. Project Review Process The current practice of requiring both BHV and BHMC signatures of approval before obtaining a building permit was discussed. Concern was expressed that if a change is made BHV will bear the brunt of potential legal actions; concern was also expressed that there be adequate understanding of applicable law in the matter. Regarding the draft document distributed with the agenda it was suggested that the items be presented as expectations rather than requirements. Since there was no specific proposal to change the present way of doing things, Mr. Perry will relate to the new Ann Arbor Township Building Inspector what is the current practice. Motion Mr. Boddie moved that discussion of the Project Review Process be tabled to the January 2008 Board of Trustees meeting. Mrs. Langford seconded; the motion carried.
NEW BUSINESS The proposed schedule for 2008 Board of Trustee meetings was discussed, with the suggestion that the regular meetings be moved from the third Monday of the month to the second Monday. This would allow ZPA Perry to attend without the conflict of the Ann Arbor Townshipmeetings; however Mrs. Redies could not present financial reports that are as timely since the information isn’t available by the second Monday. Motion Mr. Boddie moved that the regular meeting of the Barton Hills Village Board of Directors be held on the second Monday of the month beginning in January 2008. Mrs. Langford seconded; the motion carried. Mrs. Esch will distribute/post a schedule for 2008 based on this motion.
Mr. Boddie moved that the meeting be adjourned at 7:49 PM. Mr. Butterwick seconded; the motion carried.
Janice K. Esch, Deputy Clerk