On the published agenda for Monday’s June 7 council meeting are public hearings on two different site plans – Heritage Row and a planned project at Glacier Hills. Public hearings such as these are required to be published in a newspaper of general circulation one week before they take place.
In a phone interview on Friday, city clerk Jackie Beaudry confirmed for The Chronicle that an email sent by the Ann Arbor city clerk’s office to the Detroit News – requesting publication of the notices for Sunday, May 30 – was not received by The News. Due to the Memorial Day holiday, the city clerk’s staff did not learn of the communication snafu until Tuesday. That was not in time to meet the publication requirement for the June 7 public hearings.
As a result, no vote is now expected on the site plans for those two projects at Monday’s June 7 city council meeting. The notice of public hearings for those projects, Beaudry said, was published in the June 3 edition of the Washtenaw Legal News. Those WLN notices in the June 3 edition still specify the site plan public hearings for June 7, but indications from inside city hall are that if when the hearings are opened on June 7, they’ll be left open and continued through the council’s June 21 meeting, when a vote will be taken on the site plans as well as the Heritage Row rezoning.
The zoning change for the Heritage Row project, which is considered separately from the site plan by the council and is given a separate public hearing, was properly noticed, Beaudry told The Chronicle. How can one of the public hearings receive proper notice, but the other one not, when they’re part of the same project?
It’s due to the fact that the rezoning moves through a two-step process with the city council, whereas the site plan approval requires just one step. Rezoning is an ordinance change – as such, it requires two readings before the council. Having passed at its first reading at the city council’s May 3 meeting, the Heritage Row rezoning moves to a second council reading through a process handled by the city clerk’s office – and the associated public noticing is thus handled without any additional communication required from planning and development staff.
The site plan for Heritage Row, however, is coming to the city council for the first time on June 7 – it does not become part of the city clerk’s bailiwick until there’s communication from the city planning staff. On a related note, for planning commission public hearings, the responsibility of public noticing falls to the city planning staff, not the city clerk.
The relevant city code section for public noticing of site plans is from Chapter 57:
5:135. Public information and hearings. …
(3) Notice of all public hearings shall be published in a local daily newspaper of general circulation at least 1 week prior to the public hearing
The decision on Heritage Row, now projected for June 21, 2010, would overlap with the first reading before the city council of a proposed historic district, tentatively scheduled for the same meeting. [See Chronicle coverage: "S. Fifth Avenue: Historic District, Development"]
The Heritage Row project includes 79 units – 12 efficiencies, 9 1-bedroom, 43 2-bedroom, 14 3-bedroom, and 1 5-bedroom apartment. Those units will be distributed over seven renovated existing houses and three buildings to be constructed behind the existing houses. [Additional Chronicle coverage: "Heritage Row Moves to City Council"]