Comments on: Possible Moratorium To Delay 413 E. Huron? it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Tue, 19 Feb 2013 20:42:24 +0000 A revised version of the resolution on a moratorium, replacing the original one, was posted to the city’s online Legistar system on the afternoon of Tues. Feb. 19, the day of the council’s meeting. So deliberations will start based on the revised text:

Resolved, that the City Council directs the Planning Commission to review recently approved and recommended site plans in the D1 zoning district to determine whether these zoning standards provide clear, understandable requirements regarding both form and use and at the same time conform to and carry out the goals of the City’s Master Plan, Downtown Plan and Character Overlay Districts;

Resolved, that the Planning Commission is directed to complete this evaluation and make recommendations to the City Council regarding any possible changes to the D1 zoning districts on or before June 4, 2013, and that the City Council will take action on those recommendations on or before August 19, 2013, and

Resolved, that the City Council hereby imposes a temporary moratorium on all new site plan petitions in the D1 zoning district, and that all petitions for site plan approval in D1 will be deferred for a maximum period of 180 days from the date of this resolution in conjunction with the study and revision of the zoning ordinances pertaining to these districts, with the following exceptions:

—(i) Petitions recommended for approval by the Planning Commission, but not considered by the City Council prior to February 19, 2013
—(ii) Any development, redevelopment or building permits for projects that do not require an approved site plan
—(iii) Any administrative amendments to site plans
—(iv) Any applications or permits which involve routine repair and maintenance for an existing permitted use

Resolved, That any aggrieved petitioner or applicant shall be entitled to receive a hearing by the City Council to show that the temporary moratorium imposed in this resolution will result in the preclusion of all viable economic use of their property, or will otherwise violate applicable provisions of State or Federal law, and if the City Council finds that an aggrieved petitioner or applicant makes such a showing, the City Council may grant relief from the moratorium to the degree necessary to cure the violation.

By: John Q. John Q. Sat, 16 Feb 2013 18:39:28 +0000 “The lines between the Master Plan and the zoning ordinance are rather thin and hard to see, but they are there.”

If they are “thin and hard to see” in the state law and local ordinances, they’ll be quite clear to a court of law. Courts generally defer to decisions made by municipalities in the area of zoning except when those decisions are contrary to the locally adopted General or Master Plan. Once that happens, the courts will often use that as a reason to strike down that action.

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Sat, 16 Feb 2013 17:32:49 +0000 I consulted a very useful reference, “Michigan Laws Relating to Planning”, 10th edition, from the Planning & Zoning Center and Land Policy Institute at MSU. I noted some of the same items that Tom refers to, and particularly lit on this portion of the site plan section: “other statutorily authorized and properly adopted local unit of government planning documents”. I would argue that those documents include the Master Plan.

The Master Plan has its own section, MCL 125.3807. “The general purpose of a master plan is to guide and accomplish…development that satisfies all the following criteria…” (followed by a long list that closely resembles that in the first section cited above, including “light and air”)

Also, MCL 125.3833 (2)(d)(part of a list describing the parts of a master plan)

“For a local unit of government that has adopted a zoning ordinance, a zoning plan for various zoning districts controlling the height, area, bulk, location, and use of buildings and premises. The zoning plan shall include an explanation of how the land use categories on the future land use map relate to the districts on the zoning map.”

The lines between the Master Plan and the zoning ordinance are rather thin and hard to see, but they are there.

By: David Cahill David Cahill Sat, 16 Feb 2013 17:31:56 +0000 Very interesting. Thanks! What happens if a zoning district (or portion thereof) complies with parts of the master plan and violates other parts? Is the zoning district legally invalid?

By: Tom Whitaker Tom Whitaker Sat, 16 Feb 2013 16:07:26 +0000 @13:

MCL Section 125.3203,(1)

A zoning ordinance shall be based upon a plan designed to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare, to encourage the use of lands in accordance with their character and adaptability, to limit the improper use of land, to conserve natural resources and energy, to meet the needs of the state’s residents for food, fiber, and other natural resources, places of residence, recreation, industry, trade, service, and other uses of land, to ensure that uses of the land shall be situated in appropriate locations and relationships, to avoid the overcrowding of population, to provide adequate light and air, to lessen congestion on the public roads and streets, to reduce hazards to life and property, to facilitate adequate provision for a system of transportation including, subject to subsection (5), public transportation, sewage disposal, safe and adequate water supply, education, recreation, and other public requirements, and to conserve the expenditure of funds for public improvements and services to conform with the most advantageous uses of land, resources, and properties. A zoning ordinance shall be made with reasonable consideration of the character of each district, its peculiar suitability for particular uses, the conservation of property values and natural resources, and the general and appropriate trend and character of land, building, and population development.

MCL Section 125.3501,(5)

A site plan shall be approved if it contains the information required by the zoning ordinance and is in compliance with the conditions imposed under the zoning ordinance, other statutorily authorized and properly adopted local unit of government planning documents, other applicable ordinances, and state and federal statutes.

Ann Arbor City Code, Title V, Chapter 55, Article III, 5:24.1

Intent. The intent of this section is to provide clear and consistent area, height and placement regulations for construction in the City of Ann Arbor. The standards are intended to require the appropriate placement of buildings that result in improved non-motorized access, adequate open space, and the efficient use of land and infrastructure consistent with principles of sustainable land use practices described in adopted City master plans.

By: John Q. John Q. Sat, 16 Feb 2013 15:37:33 +0000 While there’s some general language in state law that addresses the relationship of zoning to the master plan, the real concern would be legal. Woe is the community that goes into court on a zoning dispute where the zoning is contrary to the Master Plan.

By: David Cahill David Cahill Sat, 16 Feb 2013 15:15:40 +0000 @11 – Tom, please provide a statutory citation for your statement that “State law requires the zoning to be based on the master plan.” I can’t find it.

By: DrData DrData Sat, 16 Feb 2013 14:39:11 +0000 City planners sometimes create maps that show the downtown population in “day” “night” maps. A dead downtown is one that just has workers and not enough residents to sustain the businesses in the area, which end up being just for the workers.

For Ann Arbor, we need a different map: October vs June. I imagine swaths of empty units during the summer. That’w not real healthy for the downtown.

NYC, Berlin, etc. are irritated by lots of weekend apartments bought by the very wealthy who only use them a few weekends a year. If you live in one of those buildings it must be an odd feeling to be the only occupied unit on a floor.

By: Tom Whitaker Tom Whitaker Fri, 15 Feb 2013 22:24:48 +0000 @2: Good one, Jack, but I didn’t speak to a zoning change or moratorium, but merely listed all the ways the proposed building was counter to major elements of the master plan. This alone is grounds for denying a site plan per state law and local ordinance. If planning commissioners thought the proposal met all zoning requirements, well, then one can only conclude that the zoning and master plan are not consistent with each other. Since State law requires the zoning to be based on the master plan, I don’t see how the City has a choice but to call a halt on new projects until they fix that.

As to a car allowance—no need. We moved to one of the historic neighborhoods next to downtown so we could walk most everywhere, just like many of our neighbors, or those who live in Sloan Plaza, or in the Old Fourth Ward area that would be shadowed by this proposed building. Downtown needs permanent residents and owner-occupants as much, if not more than it needs more transient apartments. Hundreds of those have already been built or are approved to be built. The master plan calls for diversity in downtown living, but it seems the only segments currently being catered to are students and the exalted “young professionals.”

Instead of just encouraging more high rises, how about a little balance? Why not a program to encourage owner-occupants to fix up former student rental houses? How about encouraging more housing for families and retirees? Downtown density will have no effect on sprawl unless everyone is welcome to live there. Many of us chose to live the downtown lifestyle before it was hip, but the reward has been to see our neighborhoods dismantled or our quality of life diminished by insensitive projects built in the name of density. Let’s take a time-out and see how we can move forward together.

By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Fri, 15 Feb 2013 21:30:44 +0000 Significant contrasts between an early draft resolution and the version that appears on the agenda include:

1. Timeframe for planning commission review and recommendation and council action is sonner: The final version of the resolution specifies June 30 for completion of planning commission work and Aug. 31 for council action.

2. The length of the moratorium (which is effected by deferral of new site plans) is shorter: 180 days from the date the resolution passes [not up to a year as in the draft]. From Feb. 19, counting 180 days gets us to Aug. 18.

3. Vagueness introduced with respect to the status of 413 E. Huron, if the resolution were to pass. It’s not clear (to me, anyway) that the version attached to the agenda would exclude 413 E. Huron from consideration. If it does exclude 413 E. Huron, mightn’t it also exclude 624 Church?

I think it hinges on what the meaning is of “new site plan petition.” A previous draft resolution teased apart 413 E. Huron from 624 Church by appealing to the notion of planning commission’s recommendation of approval: 413 E. Huron has no recommendation of approval; 624 Church has a recommendation of approval. But if “new” means “not yet before the city council” then neither project would be considered for six months. If “new” means “has not been submitted to the city,” then both projects seem like they’d escape the temporary moratorium.