Greenbelt Expansion Gets Initial OK

At its Nov. 21, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council gave initial approval to a change in the boundaries for the city’s greenbelt program – an open space preservation effort funded by a 0.5 mill tax approved by voters in 2003.

The area in and around Ann Arbor eligible for land preservation under the greenbelt program is defined in Chapter 42 of the Ann Arbor city code. The council has expanded the boundaries once before, in 2007. The current proposal is essentially to square-off the area by adding a mile to the southwest in Lodi Township, and one mile to the northeast in Salem Township. [.jpg of map by The Chronicle showing original boundaries, the 2007 expansion and the currently proposed expansion]

As part of the amendment to Chapter 42, the council gave initial approval to a change that allows a parcel of land adjacent to the greenbelt boundary to be eligible for projection, if it is also adjacent to a parcel under the same ownership within the greenbelt boundary. The greenbelt advisory commission had voted to recommend the ordinance changes at its Sept. 14, 2011 meeting.

Since the start of the greenbelt program, roughly $18 million has been invested by the city of Ann Arbor in protecting open space. That has been matched by roughly $19 million from other sources, including the federal Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program, surrounding townships, Washtenaw County and landowner donations. That funding has protected roughly 3,200 acres in 27 separate transactions.

At the Nov. 21 council meeting, it was announced that Cherry Republic – a retail store selling cherry products that has an Ann Arbor location on Main Street – will be donating $2,500 to the city, to support the greenbelt program.

Also at the Nov. 21 meeting, the city council approved the appointment of Shannon Brines to the greenbelt advisory commission. The current commission had recommended his appointment at its Oct. 12, 2011 meeting.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]