Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

City Council, Brownfield Cleanup Edition

3. June 2006 • Dale Winling
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Ann Arbor City HallCity Council takes on evaluation of brownfield redevelopment in a public hearing and a new business agenda item in their once-a-fortnight twice-a-month meeting June 5th.

First up on the slate of public hearings is the William Street Station brownfield plan. The developer, HDC, includes brownfield grants from the state in part of their financing package to develop the mixed-use, mixed-income project. Later in the meeting is council consideration of a resolution to issue bonds for brownfield cleanup of the proposed Lower Town development. The developer’s meeting of a number of financing and lease conditions will trigger issuance of the bonds to keep the project moving forward.

Also on tap are a number of other building and community development items including the Washington Terrace site plan, authorization of Community Development Block Grant and HOME fund allocations for FY 06-07, and a PUD for The Gallery on North Main.

Finally, ordinances on increasing Water and Sewer and Stormwater rates and on council’s ability to set Bicycle registration fees will be heard for the first time.

  1. Totally off topic post here, but the article reminded me that I just heard about a bunch of upraor on Pleasant Lake. Something to do with a gravel pit on Zeeb doing some unusual deep digging/mining and making a 125 acre lake there, I guess the Pleasant Lake folk (freedom township) hired a guy who said the lake level will go down, the gravel pit folks hired someone who said it would all be fine.

       —Just a Voice    Jun. 4 '06 - 11:51PM    #
  2. Water and Sewer was a typo from an old meeting.

    If memory serves, Washington Terrace was amended (Easthope) so that any changes to materials, setbacks, etc., would have to come back to council. The Gallery, a proposed mixed-use development in Kerrytown, was the most contentious item. Johnson opposed it for being the right building on the wrong site along with Hieftje, both of whom invoked the neighborhoods even though, by their own admissions, Kerrytown businesses and some residents were in favor of it. William Street Station had no speakers during the public hearing, and was postponed; numerous projects and resolutions, including several street closures came across in rapid fire.

    The improvements for Evergreen Park were postponed because of the complaints of a neighbor about public input, and the CDBG and HOME budgets were postponed for further review. Anyone else following along at home, please chime in.

    The Gallery opposition again seems like clear NIMBY opposition to me (but it always does). The design was praised several times—the complaint was solely that the building was too tall. Carlberg defended the project well.

       —Dale    Jun. 6 '06 - 07:01AM    #
  3. And don’t forget the Planning Commission Meeting tonight, June 6 at 7:00 pm. The agenda includes public hearings on the rezoning of South University, the Millers Creek watershed improvement, and two more one-story undistinguished, pedestrian-hostile buildings on Stadium Blvd.

       —Juliew    Jun. 6 '06 - 10:08PM    #
  4. OK, so who watched Planning Commisssion last night?

       —Dale    Jun. 7 '06 - 05:28PM    #
  5. I did.

    The rezoning of South University was tabled. The South U merchants have concerns about the C2A District’s unfriendliness to very small businesses (this was not elaborated upon).

    The “pedestrian-hostile buildings on Stadium Blvd” both failed to get a recommendation of approval from the commission. This was round two for a drive through Fifth Third branch and a CVSon the corner of Liberty and Stadium (presently an ex-car dealership). They were tabled at the April 18 meeting due to their perceived pedestrian hostility.

    As far as I could tell the main difference between the first plan and last night’s was less lawn along Stadium with both the parking and the buildings moved closer to the street. If you read the minutes from the April meeting you will get a good sense of the project and the planning commissioners concerns. Last night had the same arguments with the planning commissioners invoking the West Area Plan and the developers pointing out the realities of modern banking and retail.

    A big source of amusement was the tension between the commissioners and everybody else. The planning staff gave both the first and the second plans a staff recommendation of approval. Neighbors were present at the April meeting and last night giving both plans almost 100% support. In fact, at the April meeting, when the planning commissioners subjected the plans to withering criticism and hinted that they wanted the parking in the back of the site (i.e. near the neighbors) the neighbors actually rallied in support of the developers.

    Last night the developers were clearly going crazy listening to the minutiae of a typical planning commission meeting. At one point, after commissioner Bona became obsessed with the pedestrian potential of a cut through to the rear of the site off Liberty, the owner of the property leapt up and promised he would build her a sidewalk right there.

    Another petitioner was a banker who said no one would bank there if they followed commissioner Hall’s advice and went with a configuration which would force customers parking in the bank’s parking lot to walk across 4 lanes of drive-through-banking traffic to get to the bank.

    After the banker shot down her idea Hall quickly called for a vote. Only Potts and D’Amour voted for the bank.

    There was some talk of tabling the CVSbut the petitioners begged them not to and they didn’t.

    P.S. could someone tell me why when I put “CVS” followed by a space I get this message:Precondition Failed
    The precondition on the request for the URL /article/1313/city-council-brownfield-cleanup-edition evaluated to false

       —David F    Jun. 7 '06 - 11:50PM    #
  6. Huh. I can’t tell what about the C2A is more hostile to small businesses than C1A and C1A/R. Could be the fear is that, by allowing a greater range of uses, the C2A designation would allow new types of businesses to come in and replace old ones?

    Seems the important difference here is that C2A has a maximum floor area ratio, “with bonuses”, of 600%, while C1A and /R have 300%. C2A also has a minimum height of 2 stories.

    As for the CVS/Bank proposals, if the minutes you link to are representative of the tone at this meeting, too, then good for the Planning Commission! Stepping up and taking some leadership for some of the things that get talked about here. From the earlier minutes,

    Hall: While Stadium Boulevard was not yet a pedestrian-friendly street, she stated that one of the goals of the West Area Plan was to use building placement as a means to eventually achieve that.

    D’Amour: He agreed that Stadium Boulevard was an auto-oriented street and that it would not be changing soon; however, in the spirit of the West Area Plan, part of the planning being considered for this area involved trying to achieve more of a pedestrian-oriented street, even though it might take generations.

    Lipson: He said it would be good if the petitioner could go one step further and try to conform to the recommendations of the West Area Plan so this would not be just another design conducive to the bank, but also to the goals of the community to turn Stadium into more of a pedestrian-friendly corridor. His main concern was accommodating the West Area Plan, he said, especially given the recent improvements undertaken along Stadium Boulevard.

    Sounds like the PC is doing their job – the developer presents what they want to build, the staff recommendation tells them whether the proposal complies with the zoning ordinance, the public input tells them what the immediate neighbors think, and the PC has to sort through and figure out what the best way to make this serve the community as a whole is.

       —TPM    Jun. 8 '06 - 12:32AM    #