When the Ann Arbor city council recessed its May 6, 2013 meeting around 11:30 p.m., to resume on May 13, the council was poised to deliberate on the site plan approval for 413 E. Huron St. – a proposed 14-story, 216-apartment building at the northeast corner of Huron and Division streets.
During the lengthy public hearing at the city council’s May 6 session, some opponents of the 413 E. Huron project presented their case against the project in terms of a nine-point booklet they’d distributed to councilmembers.
On May 10, Ann Arbor city planning staff provided responses to the nine points. The nine points presented in the booklet – titled “The Facts” – are summarized as follows, with a brief synopsis of the planning staff response in italics. In all cases, the material in the booklet, as well as the planning staff response, were longer than the brief overview presented here.
- The 413 E. Huron site plan is not in compliance with applicable Michigan statutes. [It is correct that the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act guides the development of municipal zoning ordinances. ... [But] This section of state law does not provide any explicit requirements for site plans.]
- The site plan is not in compliance with Ann Arbor city codes and ordinances. [Staff review has determined that all city code requirements have been satisfied.]
- The developer’s Citizen Participation Report failed to include required detail. [Initial submission did not include responses to citizen comments; however, a supplement added later included those responses.]
- Special exception use for underground parking was not approved. [The underground parking use is not a principal use, but rather an accessory to the residential use, and thus does not require approval as a special exception.]
- Construction will kill a 250-year-old legacy Burr Oak tree. [This site does not meet the definition of Woodland per Chapter 57, and is therefore not a native forest fragment. The area covering the critical root zone of the tree after construction will be landscaped with other trees or shrubs as contrasted with the current conditions, which is a paved parking lot.]
- The proposed building imposes a traffic safety hazard. [The traffic impact study was reviewed by the city’s traffic engineer, as well as the Michigan Dept. of Transportation, and was determined to meet all city and MDOT requirements.]
- Allowable construction noise level is a health hazard. [Noise levels at construction projects are periodic, not constant, and the standards apply uniformly across the city for all construction projects.]
- The site plan does not explain how the Sloan Plaza foundation will be protected from damage. [Site plans aren't required to provide engineered construction details of the same kind that will be required at the building permit stage.]
- Lack of solar access on adjacent properties is a violation of city code. [The design guideline noted in the objection is not a code requirement, but a voluntary guideline to be used in designing a site.]
The developer has also provided a point-by-point response to the booklet in a letter to the city council dated May 10, 2013.
The 413 E. Huron site plan will be the first item considered by the council when the May 13 session of the May 6 meeting resumes.