Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Planning Commission rejects school site plan

17. February 2005 • Murph
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The Ann Arbor Planning Commission last night rejected the school district’s request that the new high school site be annexed into the city, a requirement for receiving water and sewer service, and also rejected the school’s site plan. Whether either of these actions is meaningful is another question. The Ann Arbor News notes,

The [site plan] rejection has no impact on the new school since school district projects are exempt from municipal zoning and building codes. The Ann Arbor School District submitted the plan as a courtesy.


In 1994, the city and township came up with an agreement that the township will not contest annexation of the school land. Planning Commissioner Eric Lipson and school Trustee Nelson said that agreement automatically annexes the land once requested by the school district.

But it was unclear to other members of the Planning Commission whether the city had to grant that annexation.

  1. The resolution between the city and Ann Arbor Township is only binding on the Township. In other words, the city does not have to annex. There is a precedent for this in the case of the Steiner School on Newport rd which the city refused to annex because it feared what the school’s expansion would do to the neighborhood and traffic. The situation with AA Public Schools is that the city may not impose its zoning and environmental regs. on the district. This was not the case with Steiner because it was a private school. Public schools can unfortunately trump local laws. But this doesn’t mean that the city, while having no say on the location and design of this school, must necessarily annex the property. In fact it would probably be in the city’s best interest not to annex because of potential infrastructure costs and liabilities. Lou
       —Lou Glorie    Feb. 18 '05 - 09:24PM    #
  2. Lou, thanks for the info on the resolution. Do you happen to know how dependent the school’s plan is on getting annexed (and therefore getting access to city utilities)?

    Of course, if the school’s plan is dependent, is the City Council going to vote against the schools’ plan? No. Much as I would like them to take a stand and ask for a site plan that isn’t totally crap (Where does the school district think they are? Canton?), I don’t think they’ll do anything that can be interpreted as voting against a school.
       —Murph    Feb. 19 '05 - 01:29AM    #
  3. To find out more about the AAPS plan, go to
    The District’s plan is not completely dependent on getting annexed. They can build on the land, and plan to, destroying most of the environment there. Of course they would much prefer having city utilities than not.
    The City Council, like the Planning Commission, might very well vote against annexation. Some of the Commissioners lamented that their hands were tied as far as voting for annexation because of the 1994 Boundary Policy Agreement between AA Township and the City. However, though that agreement states that the township shouldn’t object to releasing the land, the agreement says nothing about the city having to annex it. Some may argue it is implied, but it is not spelled out in the agreement.
    Some commissioners voted against annexation as a public protest (believing annexation was inevitable), but actually, based on the agreement’s language, the city/council is not obligated to actually annex. They could vote no. If they feel the plan is bad enough, and contrary enough to the city’s master plan, Greenbelt, traffic safety, etc., they could vote no. Everyone should contact the city council and tell them to vote no on annexation.
    There will be more news, but I can’t go into it here.
    Do go to the website to keep up to date (we update it nearly daily). Tell everyone to. Link to it liberally.
       —Alan Pagliere    Feb. 24 '05 - 03:02AM    #
  4. The Ann Arbor Township Board voted to table till March, the vote on releasing the land for the school so that it could be annexed by the City. The vote was unanimous because all the trustees felt they did not have enough information about the school district’s plan which will create a traffic nightmare in the area and will require the clear cutting of the majority of the 109 acres.
    Also in question were two legal issues:
    First, are school districts actually exempt from all non-zoning ordinances (those that have to do with “health, safety and welfare”). This was thrown into doubt in the Northville case in the Michigan Supreme Court. This would have great impact on the school district’s short-sighted plan for traffic near, and wetlands on, the site.
    Second, the 1994 Boundary Policy Agreement that outlines “orderly annexation” between AA Township and the City of AA, and which the district was relying on, may also be less than binding.
    Things are not going as smoothly as they might. There are public officials in both municipalities with grave concerns about the school plan.
       —Alan Pagliere    Feb. 25 '05 - 10:47PM    #
  5. Hey Murph. That’s real classy of you taking a jab at Canton.
       —NotMurph    Sep. 30 '05 - 12:02AM    #
  6. Uh, Canton Township sucks. Sorry for the news flash.
       —Brandon    Sep. 30 '05 - 01:30AM    #
  7. Cherry Hill Village is an interesting experiment in building a TND around an existing historical area with some cool amenities:

    So I wouldn’t say Canton totally sucks.
       —John Q.    Sep. 30 '05 - 02:51AM    #
  8. Fair enough, if one is going to build suburbia, Cherry Hill Village is decent. But ‘tis a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the massive sprawling township (soon with Ikea!).
       —Brandon    Sep. 30 '05 - 06:45AM    #