Pittsfield Township staff wheeled out the “Jumbotron” prior to Tuesday's township board meeting.
Jumbotron is the name staffers use to describe a very large touch screen built by Dynics, Inc., a township business that manufactures industrial computer hardware.
During the meeting, the machine was used to display slides for presentations by the police department and zoning planners. The device facilitates interactive group engagement with data and programs. Touching a particular icon or word brings up related information or images.
Presenters using the Jumbotron needed a helper standing at the side of the screen tapping it to advance to the next slide.
“We support our township businesses,” said supervisor Mandy Grewal regarding the township’s use of the techno tool.
This display device was especially relevant because the evening agenda included the public hearing for a tax abatement requested by Dynics, for expansion and renovations of their building at 620 Technology Drive.
Ed Gant, president of Dynics, gave a brief overview of his company and their request for tax savings. Gant described the increasing diversity and growth of his business. This permitted hiring of four new employees this year with the possibility of five more by year’s end. He also pointed out that concrete had just been poured for a 6,600-square-foot addition to the facility.
As the board had no further questions, Grewal declared the hearing closed. The board proceeded to discuss a resolution to approve the request. With little further discussion, the board approved the resolution.
Dynics will be awarded a 12-year tax abatement on approximately $1 million in expenses for construction and capital equipment. Previous analysis had showed that the tax break was affordable to the township and that it would help retain and grow jobs in the area
Form-based Building Code
Richard Carlisle of Carlisle Wortman Associates, Inc., presented his plan for a revised zoning ordinance based on the township’s master plan. The code emphasizes building form over its ultimate use.
The regulations are to “promote development that is more sustainable into the future and to attempt to discourage the practice of disposable buildings,” Carlisle said.
The rules are “somewhat more prescriptive in terms of how buildings are to be built and where they are located, and less prescriptive in terms of the uses to which they could be put,” he said.
Carlisle’s plan includes the concept of “contextual relevancy.” Evaluation of street type and site type dictates what sort of buildings can be situated in a given location. Building form is then regulated in terms of architecture, how structures are situated with respect to the road and neighboring buildings, and pedestrian friendliness.
“We recognize existing conditions and propose realistic redevelopment solutions,” Carlisle said.
There was limited discussion after the presentation, but the board was impressed.
“I think this is extremely exciting for our township,” Clerk Alan Israel said.
A Cop on the High School Beat
Director of public safety, Matthew Harshberger introduced officer Tiffany Small, who has been serving at Saline High School as Student Resource Officer. Small gave a PowerPoint presentation on her role over the past year, emphasizing the value of an on-site police presence.
Among the many advantages sited were the value of an officer with a working knowledge of the school, facilitation of building searches and emergency drills, and rapid response to in-progress safety issues. She also suggested that her deployment at the school saves the township money.
Small said that her duties have included investigations, lunchroom monitoring, traffic control, engagement with students, counseling, and even participation as a resource person in various classes.
The board members were clearly impressed with Small’s efforts.
“You’re very engaged, very enthusiastic, and very passionate,” said Grewal.
“I’m impressed by the things you’ve done and how it’s working,” said Trustee Gerald Krone.
The Consent Agenda
At the July board meeting there were nine items on the consent agenda and expenditures approaching $2 million dollars.
In fact, the expenses involved had already been paid. They include many of the sorts of expenses that a homeowner must pay, but much larger: power, water, insurance, maintenance, etc. Approval here is more like acknowledgment.
Discussion of New Expenditures.
Eight items were discussed, mostly relating to Administration Building improvements or tools to be used by the police force.
The board approved an air conditioning system to protect computer servers and a new building access control system for the Administration Building. The access system will utilize key fobs or badges that are programmed to open specific doors for specific periods of time.
For the police force, the board approved the purchase of ammunition for training and service, two digital video cameras for interview rooms, three in-car video systems, and a GPS tracking device. The trustees seemed surprised that the tracking device was to be used (with appropriate warrants) to secretly track the whereabouts of suspected criminals. This purchase was unanimously approved, like the other requests.
The remaining issues approved by the board included approval of the fall Parks and Recreation Schedule and carryover of an agreement with the Ann Arbor United Soccer Club to use the field at Lillie Park.