Green Task Force Meeting Minutes, June 26th, 2014

Green Task Force Meeting Minutes, June 26th, 2014
Held at MSU Detroit Center, Woodward Ave.
Hosted by Government Affairs

In Attendance:
Aimee LaLonde-Norman, Rachel Gaylord-Miles, Ryan Oswald,
Cathleen Francois, Eric Dovas, Todd Scott, Gary Wozniak,
Patrick Smithbauer, Regina Royan, Doug Strane, Jeff Gaines,
Phil Hadley, Margaret Weber, James Rydquist, Sandra Yu,
Zegbe N’Namch, LeReina Wheeler, Christopher Cynar, Khalil Mogassabi,
Christopher Dorle, Erma Leaphart, Kari Jordan, Khalil Ligon, Guy Williams

Chuck Rivers, the director with Governmental Affairs is introduced by Scott Benson. Speaks of the history of the building, welcomes everyone and invites everyone for tours.

Scott Benson asks for short introductions.

First presentation Todd Scott Detroit Greenways Coalition; speaks of southeast Michigan history of greenways. Local match funding generally wasn’t available for grants so Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan launched Greenways Initiative. They created the Coalition with other Detroit non-profits and the city as well as philanthropy.

Now a non-profit whose vision “is a strong, healthy, vibrant City of Detroit and region where a seamless network of greenways, green spaces, blueways and complete streets is an integral part of people’s active lifestyle including day-to-day transportation and recreation.”
Detroit non-motorized Transportation Plan was looked at and approved in 2008, so bike lanes are being added each year.

Coalition created network vision to connect trails and bike lanes. Scott showed the progress from the Riverwalk and Belle Isle to the progress made so far, including Underground Railroad bike route.
By end of 2014 and spring 2015, Dequindre Cut extension will be completed with bike lanes Hamtramck and MIdtown. East Jefferson getting bike lanes at City’s east border.

Major M1 Rail safety issues on Woodward led to MDOT providing $1 million dollars to utilize Cass Ave. instead. Will include bike parking, repair stations, and bike counters in the ground that will give number total annually.

Public Bike Sharing planned and grant acceptance will be known this week for roll out of March next year. At least 35 stations to begin with.

Bike access to Canada presented, looking at new bridge, ferry service.

Inner Circle Greenway 26 mile loop, funding for railroad property being utilized. Looking to connect the figure 8 to Windsor; $15 million TIGER grant application was created but changed to $1 million TIGER planning grant due to M1 Rail.

The Green Lane National project chooses 6 cities every other year for cycle tracks — protected bike lanes. Detroit applied, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis were chosen this year, hoping Detroit is chosen in the future.

“It’s about the people we’re building this for. No other city has the biking culture that Detroit has.” Speaks of the diversity and connection of the people involved, as well as Slow Role.

Question on business of biking rentals on either side of the tunnel or bridge.

Katherine Underwood; Urban Livestock update.

People allowed to have gardens for primary use, now wanting livestock to be within law.
City law states no code for it; going about it in a deliberate way to change this.
Even though people want livestock, others do not want or embrace it; the response is that their voices and concerns will be listened to.

Coming up with community education format. Working on what this will look like. Posters taken to community meetings so that the consideration of livestock is being brought up and asking what their thoughts and concerns are as well as their ideas of education and engagement.

Need to figure out what animals and numbers should be allowed.
Hens and rabbits, goats, many honey bees are being kept.
Numbers allowed may differ in different neighborhoods.
Push back comes from more traditional areas and neighborhoods.
Ways being considered; permission from neighbors, lot of vacancy and activity means that you can do things differently; more agricultural activity and animals. Complications in process can be an opportunity for Detroit to lead in this arena; how many animals, set backs, manure management, rodent prevention, protection of health and welfare of animals is important. Animal Control is working within this area.

MSU and MI dept of agricultural development are concerned and involved in making sure things go well. Concern about goats and the exposure of toxins and bio-accumulation is discussed.

Exciting is that people now have a source of food. Eggs, milk, honey products. Source of income; soap making, research opportunities, opportunity for Detroit to be leaders in urban livestock.
Detroit listed as number one (check report name).
Detroit has oldest 4H in country. MSU thinks this is good for creating interest in veterinary and agricultural education.

Concept of Urban Livestock Guild discussed.
This may be a way to challenge people to be responsible for each other and the concept of Urban Livestock. Creates support, education, and cooperation with the regulatory agencies.

City doesn’t go out of their way to find people taking care of livestock; they just look at the problems and complaints, as most people utilize them for personal use.


Wayne county farm Bureau has nothing to do with the situation yet.

Fish farms are currently legal.
Distinction between residential and commercial zoning step-up will be considered in the ordinances, possibly determined by square footage.

Detroit Future Cities open spaces looks at natural resources risk with Urban Livestock. Proper balance within this could actually improve this. What do you think are the positives? It is being looked at within the committee and review processes will be in place. Informal relationship with Universities will help figure this out. No one is looking at large scale agriculture that will impact things negatively in the community.

With density of neighborhoods in the future, what do you see?
Detroit Future Cities looking at what makes sense for appropriately zoned areas. The city is not anticipating over a 20 year period being repopulated; increments will be considered as permanent green space.

Contamination in urban soils and how that is addressed is discussed. MSU taking the lead in research. City doesn’t have the capabilities to do these things, asking people to consider this testing for themselves.

Water Sub-committee Report

Chris Cynar, Kathleen and Irma asked to weigh in.
Everything is work in progress
Draft of MLU shared with Mr. Benson’s office; purpose is to help city dept. develop a consistent way to manage water.
Law dept. from Wayne state helping on zoning ordinances for storm water and green infrastructure strategies and policies.
Maximizing open space and parking issues being researched.

The water sub-committee has policy and evacuation departments. Community map being worked on to highlight the work being done within the city. Rough draft for educational guidance on how to mange rain water and utilizing water shed management. Detroit doesn’t have the same ordinances as the outer areas.

Green Task Force information on Storm water management program is on Mr. Benson’s government site.

July or September …… being put on the agenda

Mr. Benson states:
Storm water management being highlighted as a main issue in Detroit for Task force right now. Fees and implementation of design for drainage are part of the conversation started now and Task Force will be brought in later once this is in place.
Permits and assessment and how they are taxed are discussed.

Does the city have the power to say to the assessment department, “No taxes will be given to the green infrastructure upgrades?” is discussed.

Plumbing code in ’09 states you must have an improved way to dispose of storm water. Challenging and discussing with the state that approval should be include a green infrastructure upgrade.

LEED process could be circumvented by

Sandra Yu speaks on Detroit Environmental Agenda

Detroit Climate action coalition stake holder review of climate conversation within the city.

Green jobs training starting in september; looking for students and employer partners, will send out information.

Environmental agenda history is discussed.

How to get the champions of the city and city council to discuss the issues that are important from both sides.

Listed all organizations that got together in ’09 to create voter guides, took candidates on tours of toxic areas, reported on environmental safety and wrote recommendations on areas of concern. Their group looked at how to make all of these things working together, then had city council meeting to discuss what was in the Detroit Environmental Agenda and encourage support.
They requested more businesses and the general public to give input on this as well.
Looking for support on key next steps from the Task Force.
Follow up meeting with Councilman Benson who gave suggestions on how to move this forward and gain support from the city council.

Strom water sub-commit chair speaks of the research sustainability element of her teams research (listen at 75:00).

Benson: speaks of the expansion of the Task Force, “Are we ready to have additional sub-committees to address the issues that are needed?”

Master planning question; what is the outlook; Benson will check PNDD with them for update

Underwood: 9 different areas of the city being looked at in an incremental way; Mayer looking at this at the end of July

Specific time tables not determined; challenges of this discussed. (Consultant to the city speaking). Intension is to get to the specific issues fo the differnet neighborhoods and detrmine the best way to move forward for the city at large.

52 neighborhoods being addressed.

Benson states that email is the best way to get personal questions to be addressed.

Sub-committees needed; only have one right now

Green Infrastructure Subcommittee considered. Detroit Future City could be utilized as a resource for this. Gentleman states he’s willing to take on sub-committee chair for this.

Sandra would like to work on the master plan re-vsion and recommendation with others.

Climate adaptation and planning for climate change as a sub-committee is discussed.

Climate environment work group DAC detroit action colaborative mentioned as working within the ideas of one of the sub-committees.

Guy Williams has process suggestion. “seems like the beneficial impact is preparing material for City Council. Can we look at sequencing instead of the breadth of what we are doing. There is a time coming when actual items can be vetted. Brings the questions of what we can do within a more structured master plan.
Discussion of large scale projects and their sustainability impact

Is there a consensus of what sustainability means?

Let’s identify what policies are still being determined by the new council and how we can impact those processes.


Group coming to Detroit doing the Rust Best Tour from Seattle Washington. Series of events for them will be sent out; please come and engage with this group.

Detroit Climate Conversation invitation going on tonight.

City plan within the city plan based on the transportation that moves within the city area. Meeting with developers of the fair grounds group.

Sierra Club having 2nd Rain barrels on the Riverfront event on July 26th 10:00.

Traffic ordinances defined now as states ordinances instead of the old city ordinances. Registration is voluntary. Forming youth bike task force to update the laws. Specific laws and fees are discussed.

Events and activities can be emailed to Councilman Benson to be sent out from the office.

Meeting closed at 4:50 p.m.