Ann Arbor planning commission’s ordinance revisions committee meeting (Aug. 13, 2013): The committee received an update on the city’s downtown zoning review at a meeting that included about a half hour of public commentary.
Erin Perdu, the consultant hired by the city to lead this process, briefed the four commissioners who serve on the ordinance revisions committee, as the first phase of this effort draws to a close.
The work is the result of a city council resolution passed on April 1, 2013. It directed the planning commission to address three specific questions: (1) whether D1 zoning is appropriately located on the north side of Huron Street between Division and South State and the south side of William Street between South Main and Fourth Avenue; (2) whether the D1 residential FAR [floor area ratio] premiums effectively encourage a diverse downtown population; and (3) whether a parcel on the south side of Ann Street adjacent to city hall should be rezoned “to the appropriate zoning for this neighborhood.” That parcel, currently a surface parking lot, is now zoned D1, which allows for the highest density development. The council’s resolution set a deadline of Oct. 1 for the planning commission to deliver recommendations to the council.
Based on public meetings, interviews and survey responses, Perdu reported a general consensus that D1 zoning is not optimal. In particular, many people feel that the buildings allowed in D1 zoning districts are too tall and massive, and that other solutions should be explored for the sites mentioned in the council resolution. Possible solutions include rezoning those sites to D2, or making changes to the D1 zoning – such as allowing diagonals as a tool for controlling building shape, lowering the height or adjusting setbacks – so that it worked better with the adjacent neighborhoods. Some people suggested creating yet another type of zoning. “I think those are options that we’ll be exploring in the next phase of this,” Perdu said.
Another big issue that emerged was the design guidelines, Perdu reported, and a lot of people suggested that those guidelines need more teeth. Suggestions included making the guidelines a requirement in order to be eligible for premiums, which allow developers to construct larger buildings in exchange for providing certain features or public amenities.
There was also general agreement that the diversity of housing isn’t being achieved, Perdu said, but “how to fix that is up for debate.” Some ideas include making the premiums more specific, to encourage different types of residential units – that is, not granting a premium for simply any kind of residential development, as is currently the case. Other ideas for premiums include providing open space, or additional environmental and pedestrian amenities.
Perdu’s team will be developing visuals – including 3D models – showing how certain types of buildings might look if changes are made to D1 zoning on the sites mentioned in the council resolution. The consultants will also be doing research on possible options for premiums that would encourage specific kinds of residential development. In addition, they’ll be looking at how design guidelines can be strengthened and better integrated into the process.
Kirk Westphal, the planning commission’s chair who also serves on the ORC, requested that Perdu’s report reflect the history of how the D1 and D2 zoning were developed. During public commentary, several speakers objected to using Perdu’s time in this way. Former planning commissioner Eppie Potts said she felt like that history is being used against opponents of D1 zoning. “Hey, there was a lot of discontent and unhappiness, which nobody chooses to remember,” she said. “There were revolts at some of the meetings. It was not that pretty, as history.”
The next public forum will be held on Thursday, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. at a venue to be determined. Perdu said she’ll also hold additional focus groups before then. The next ordinance revisions committee meeting will likely take place on Sept. 10.
D1 Review: Update
Erin Perdu began by saying she wanted to brief commissioners on the review so far, including a public forum held on Aug. 5, when she and her partner had reviewed the priority areas that have emerged so far, and solicited more feedback about those issues.
She distributed a packet of materials to ORC members that included summaries of input that she’s received from focus groups, public forums, a survey and individual interviews.
Perdu noted that she had already reviewed results from the focus groups at the ORC’s last meeting, on July 31, 2013. [See Chronicle coverage: "Downtown Zoning Review Moves Forward."] There had been four focus group meetings attended by a total of 72 individuals. [.pdf of focus group input (executive summary)] [.pdf of focus group comments]
Interviews also had been held with developers, real estate professionals, citizens who couldn’t attend the focus groups, and representatives of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. A few more interviews will be scheduled, Perdu said. [.pdf of individual interviews (executive summary)] [.pdf of input from individual interviews]
All of that input helped set the stage for the Aug. 5 public forum, Perdu said. [.pdf of Aug. 5, 2013 meeting (executive summary)] [.pdf of Aug. 5, 2013 meeting input] At that forum, the group had discussed the sites and issues highlighted in the city council resolution.
By way of background, on April 1, 2013 the city council directed the planning commission to address three specific questions: (1) whether D1 zoning is appropriately located on the north side of Huron Street between Division and South State and the south side of William Street between South Main and Fourth Avenue; (2) whether the D1 residential FAR [floor area ratio] premiums effectively encourage a diverse downtown population; and (3) whether a parcel on the south side of Ann Street adjacent to city hall should be rezoned “to the appropriate zoning for this neighborhood.” That parcel, currently a surface parking lot, is now zoned D1. The city council set a deadline of Oct. 1 for the planning commission to deliver recommendations to the council.
Perdu reported that the Aug. 5 forum used those topics as a springboard to talk about other issues that have emerged from focus groups and the online survey. There was a lot of discussion about the use of premiums, and about the location of D1 and D2 zoning districts as they relate to surrounding neighborhoods.
There was quite a bit of agreement among people who attended the Aug. 5 forum, Perdu said, regarding whether the zoning should be changed for the three sites mentioned in the council resolution. “There was general consensus from all of the groups that the D1 zoning, as it stands right now, is not optimal, and that some other solution should be explored for those areas,” she reported. Possible solutions that were suggested included rezoning those sites to D2, or making changes to the D1 zoning so that it worked better with the adjacent neighborhoods. Some people suggested creating yet another type of zoning. “I think those are options that we’ll be exploring in the next phase of this,” she said.
Based on reading Perdu’s reports, Diane Giannola said it sounded like people thought D1 and D2 zoning allowed for a taller height than what the previous zoning allowed. Do people have the understanding that D1 and D2 is actually a lower height limit? she asked. Giannola wanted to make sure that people didn’t think D1 and D2 created a height problem.
In general, Perdu replied, people she’s talked with do understand that there had been no height limit before the D1 and D2 zoning. Her understanding is that some people want those sites to be downzoned even further, with an even lower height limit. She also noted that a lot of the high-rise buildings that people criticize were built prior to the new zoning.
Perdu sensed that people are open to different zoning categories, depending on how the buildings are designed. That might include incorporating diagonals or different setbacks, and it’s something she’d like to explore further. “Is it just a straight rezoning that needs to happen? Or do we need to tweak the ordinance so that buildings that are built in the D1 look different or interact differently with the neighborhoods,” she said.
Especially on the north side of East Huron, Perdu said, some people at the Aug. 5 meeting felt that the D1 zoning could be modified so that buildings would “respect the neighborhoods better.” A lot of people used Sloan Plaza and the Campus Inn as good development, even though those buildings are also tall.
Another big issue that emerged was the design guidelines, Perdu reported, and a lot of people suggested that those guidelines need more teeth. Suggestions included making the guidelines a requirement in order to be eligible for premiums. These are issues that Perdu plans to explore in more detail.
There was also general agreement that the diversity of housing isn’t being achieved, Perdu said, but “how to fix that is up for debate.” Some ideas include making the premiums more specific, to encourage different types of residential units – that is, not granting a premium for simply any kind of residential, as is currently the case. Other ideas for premiums include providing open space, or additional environmental and pedestrian amenities.
Perdu said that given the council resolution and input received so far, there are some clear issues emerging that she’ll be exploring in this review’s next phase.
D1 Review: Update – ORC Discussion
Responding to a question from Diane Giannola, Erin Perdu reported that the concept of diagonals has come up in discussion several times, and because of that, she’d like to look at options for diagonals. [For some early discussion on the issue of diagonals, see The Chronicle's March 2009 coverage: "Council Begins Downtown Zoning Review." At its April 6, 2009 meeting, the council voted to remove the diagonal requirements that had been recommended by the planning commission. See Chronicle coverage: "City Council Moves Toward Height Limits."]
Wendy Woods wanted more information about feedback related to affordable housing. Perdu described affordable housing as an issue that has surfaced in several ways. At the coffee hours she’s been holding, some people who live outside of the downtown area have told her that they’d like to live downtown, but can’t afford it. They wanted to explore changes that would encourage more variety of downtown housing. This doesn’t just include the definition of affordability that’s used by the U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development, she noted. Rather, it’s tied to what’s sometimes called workforce housing – units that are affordable for young professionals or middle-income families. That’s difficult to incorporate into a premium, she noted, but it’s worth exploring. The price of land is a major factor in the cost of downtown housing, she observed.
Bonnie Bona, who participated in the meeting via conference call, wanted to make sure Perdu had a good handle on the configuration of units in buildings that have been approved under the new D1/D2 zoning. Bona’s impression is that the buildings don’t have predominantly six-bedroom units. The city has always made the assumption that student housing gets built with six-bedroom units, she said. Some people assume that the solution to avoid student housing is to require smaller units, she added, but she’s not sure that’s the case. She hoped to come up with other ideas for ensuring diverse housing.
Kirk Westphal wondered if there needs to be more discussion about what constitutes an impact on the neighborhoods, related to massing, height and shading. Perdu replied that the impact of a building on sunlight and shading of adjacent properties was a big reason that people thought buildings were too tall. Pure aesthetics was another impact mentioned frequently, as was parking, she said. But the biggest concern seemed to be blocking of sunlight, she added.
Westphal also asked whether the city has received a legal opinion from the city attorney’s office about whether the state enables the historic district commission to have authority outside of historic districts. Planning manager Wendy Rampson reported that the city attorney hasn’t been asked to provide a legal opinion yet. Perdu indicated there also might be ways for the historic district commission to participate in an advisory capacity.
Woods asked about some input that had been received from residents, who cited Campus Inn and Sloan Plaza as two buildings that have been well-received. She wondered if those buildings had actually been well-received when they were originally proposed.
Rampson reported that the very first meeting she attended as a member of city staff was a zoning board of appeals meeting when a variance request from Sloan Plaza was on the agenda. “I think it’s safe to say it was not well-received,” she said. [The office and residential condominium building, located at 505 E. Huron, was constructed in 1986.]
Westphal brought up the issue of flooding. He said that at a forum he attended, several residents had raised concerns about flooding in their neighborhood. [Westphal was referring to a July 29 public forum, held at the Kerrytown Concert House. Several residents from the Lansdowne neighborhood on Ann Arbor’s south side had focused their comments on criticizing the city’s footing drain disconnect program.] He noted that this issue wasn’t part of the council’s directive, and he wondered how it was being handled.
Perdu replied that it was outside the scope of her contract, but she hoped it would be addressed by the appropriate city staff. The concern, she said, is that the city’s infrastructure isn’t adequate to support increased downtown development, and it causes impacts in other parts of the city. She said her final report will include a list of concerns that have arisen but that are outside of her contract’s scope, so those issues will be documented.
In terms of Perdu’s contract, Rampson noted that they’ve reached the end of the first phase. Planning commissioners should make sure that issues identified by Perdu are those that are priorities, Rampson said. If so, those are the issues that Perdu will focus on when developing alternatives and options for possible zoning changes.
Westphal wanted Perdu’s report to include some of the history behind how the current D1 and D2 zoning had been determined, including the locations for D1 districts, the height cap, and why diagonals as a tool had been removed – and what the impacts have been for those decisions. He was also interested in knowing how the use of premiums impacted the cost of construction, which in turn would affect affordability.
Giannola wanted to include a chart showing the previous zoning, compared to current D1 and D2 zoning.
Rampson noted that there’s a tight budget and timeframe on this work, so the priority for Perdu’s work will be a focus on the three sites mentioned in the council resolution. If there’s time, Perdu can expand that work to other areas.
Perdu said she felt the alternatives provided for the three main sites could be applied to other locations as well. “At least that’s my hope,” she said.
D1 Review: Update – Additional Public Input, Next Steps
Perdu reported that there will be a break in public engagement until after Labor Day, so that she and her team can spend time assessing the input so far. The next step will be bringing back some recommendations to the planning commission and public, and getting feedback on those recommendations.
She’ll also be looking at how to get input from people who haven’t participated so far, particularly people who work downtown. Perdu said she’ll be posting more targeted questions online, to get feedback from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and possibly from a Survey Monkey survey. There will also be additional coffee hours, focus groups and individual interviews scheduled.
A working session is scheduled with the city’s historic district commission to get their input, Perdu said. HDC members as well as residents have indicated that the HDC should have additional input about developments that are proposed adjacent to an historic district, she said. A meeting with the housing commission will also likely be scheduled.
Her team will be developing more visuals to present – including 3D models – showing how certain types of buildings might look if changes are made to D1 zoning on the sites mentioned in the council resolution. Changes might include the use of diagonals, different types of setbacks, or rezoning to D2. The consultants will also be doing research on possible options for premiums that would encourage specific kinds of residential development. In addition, they’ll be looking at how design guidelines can be strengthened and better integrated into the process.
Wendy Rampson, the city’s planning manager, said the planning staff will be getting a better sense of the current residential mix for existing and planned buildings downtown, and to find out what people are looking for. Kirk Westphal suggested asking the Ann Arbor DDA for the report it commissioned from Todd Poole, a land economist who did market research as part of the Connecting William Street project.
Wendy Woods hoped that Perdu would reach out to University of Michigan students who’ll be returning to town in the fall, perhaps by going through the UM student government. Many students end up staying after they graduate, Woods noted. [Woods is associate director of the Michigan Community Scholars Program.] Rampson suggested working through the Beyond the Diag neighborhood outreach program. It’s a student-initiated effort to build community among students and non-students, and to raise safety awareness on campus and near-campus neighborhoods.
Regarding future focus groups, Diane Giannola wanted to address an incident she’d heard about that caused concern. She said she’d heard a rumor about a woman who attended one of the earlier focus groups and who had felt bullied. Giannola wanted to know how that situation was resolved, and how it might be prevented in the future. “I’m concerned that people aren’t speaking up because they feel like they don’t have the popular viewpoint,” Giannola said. [The incident occurred at a July 30, 2013 public forum attended by The Chronicle.]
Perdu reported that she had spoken to the woman after the forum, and the woman had felt “it was not a welcoming place for her to share her ideas.” That meeting had been very well attended, Perdu said, with about 45 people. It was a larger group than Perdu had anticipated, so in the future she’ll make sure the meetings are better staffed to help “manage the dialogue.” There are also other ways for people to contribute their input, she said, if they don’t feel comfortable speaking out at a meeting.
Giannola wondered if the bully could be asked to leave, if someone is being booed or laughed at. Perdu indicated that nothing escalated to that point.
Sabra Briere – a city councilmember who serves on the planning commission, who had also attended the July 30 forum – interjected, saying that the woman had been upset, but not about how she had been treated. She was upset about how another speaker had been treated, Briere said. The result was that this woman chose not to give her view, but instead pointed out how there were no ground rules for group behavior. The woman had encouraged that ground rules should be established in the future, Briere said.
The person who was interrupted frequently while he was speaking, Briere said, “was voicing his viewpoint, but at the same time he was assuming that others shared it. There were people in the room who felt he had no knowledge to speak for them.”
[The person that Briere described was Will Leaf, a University of Michigan student who's co-chair of the Mixed Use Party. The woman had responded to how Leaf's comments were received by others at the meeting, which The Chronicle attended. She asked the group: "Is there appetite for doing a couple of minutes of group norms, since I feel a little uncomfortable – especially when the person sitting next to me seemed to get shot down, and I don't feel like I'm in a safe space." She then attempted to continue but was interrupted four times by other participants, before continuing. "So for example, the question is: Is it OK to interrupt others? If we decide as a group norm that that's OK, then that's OK. I, for example, felt uncomfortable when I heard that he was interrupted and I, again, don't feel like I'm in a safe space."]
People were interrupting the speaker, Briere said. “That was rude, but it wasn’t hostile.”
Giannola responded, saying “I just hope we fix it.” Perdu said she took the experience to heart, and it was a lesson in the importance of establishing ground rules at the beginning of a session. She had done that at the Aug. 5 meeting, she reported.
The next public forum will be held on Thursday, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. at a venue to be determined. Perdu said she’ll also hold additional focus groups before then. The next ordinance revisions committee meeting will likely be on Sept. 10.
Thirteen people spoke during public commentary at the end of the meeting.
Thomas Partridge introduced himself as a write-in candidate for the Ward 5 city council race. He suggested that planning ordinances should have a more integrated approach to encourage supportive services in housing. Zoning should aim to foster a more diverse society to mitigate decades of segregation. The planning commission – along with the housing & human services advisory board and the human rights commission – should play a key role and hold joint meetings on this topic, he said.
Marc Gerstein asked about the online survey. He said he was one of the people who had trouble with it, and although he had completed it, he lost everything because he hadn’t realized he needed to register. So his survey was never recorded. It was very frustrating, he said, and he wondered how the next survey would be handled.
Erin Perdu replied that the city would likely use Survey Monkey or some other mechanism, not A2 Open City Hall. City planning manager Wendy Rampson added that A2 Open City Hall might be used for open-ended responses, but that Survey Monkey would likely be used for more targeted questions. Gerstein said the A2 Open City Hall was difficult to use, especially for writing long answers. Rampson told him she’d pass along his concerns to the company that runs A2 Open City Hall. [That firm is Peak Democracy.]
Eleanor Linn said she was surprised to hear that there was some consensus about the priorities – because she had expected the responses would be more polarized. The three priorities she heard were that people: (1) aren’t pleased with the D1 zoning; (2) think the design guidelines need more teeth; and (3) don’t think a diversity of housing has been achieved. Those were all very important, she noted. But the questions from planning commissioners during their ORC meeting “didn’t seem to acknowledge how much the feedback was going in that direction,” she said. Linn wanted to reinforce that those are the main concerns.
Peter Nagourney said Erin Perdu had done a splendid job in compiling her reports and capturing the comments, as well as writing helpful executive summaries. But even if you have time to read through all of that, he said, it doesn’t really replace the understanding that you get from attending the public forums. He encouraged members of the ORC to attend as many forums as possible, so that they can hear the discussions directly. There’s a qualitative difference between hearing for yourself and reading a report. Because this is an important decision, Nagourney hoped commissioners would take advantage of the opportunity to listen to people directly as much as possible.
In addition to Sabra Briere, two other councilmembers – Jane Lumm and Sumi Kailasapathy – attended the ORC meeting. Lumm told commissioners she was just there to listen. Kailasapathy began to speak, but was cut off by Kirk Westphal, the planning commission chair. He told her that at the commission’s last meeting, they were reminded that the commission’s bylaws don’t allow councilmembers to speak during public commentary.
[The situation occurred at the commission's July 16, 2013 meeting. Councilmember Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) had planned to speak during public commentary about a proposed Glendale Condos project, which is located in his neighborhood. He had been stopped by commissioner Diane Giannola, who cited the commission’s bylaws. The bylaws state: “A member of the City Council shall not be heard before the Commission as a petitioner, representative of a petitioner or as a party interested in a petition during the Council member’s term of office.” Warpehoski, who had been unaware of that rule, stepped away from the podium but stayed for the remainder of the public hearing and the commission’s deliberations on this item.]
At the Aug. 13 ORC session, some members of the audience questioned whether that bylaw applied only to regular business meetings. Planning manager Wendy Rampson said the general sentiment is that communications from councilmembers can occur in other ways. She said she didn’t have the bylaws in front of her.
Briere weighed in, saying that councilmembers, including herself, “are wise to be observers, since we’re not on the committee.” However, the bylaws don’t address the issue of whether councilmembers can speak during public commentary at meetings like this, she noted.
Public commentary continued.
Eleanor Pollack said she appreciated what Perdu had done, and Perdu’s report had reflected what Pollack had been hearing at these public forums. Pollack recognized that consultants have to manage their time, because there’s always more than you can do. If planning commissioners want to look at the history of how D1 and D2 zoning was developed, she said, then the commissioners could perhaps use their own time to do that. “We’re in the here and now,” Pollack said. “We’re looking at what’s happening to existing residential neighborhoods as a result of D1 and D2 being in place. It doesn’t matter what the history was before. What matters is the condition that we’re working with today.”
Pollack believed that more height is needed downtown, but she didn’t want to see it on the south side of William – she wanted those neighborhoods to be protected. She said she was still “flabbergasted” at the approval of 413 E. Huron. “That should never have happened.” The city hasn’t respected the existing neighborhoods, Pollack added – the city has “failed its people.” The impact of zoning is important, not its history, she concluded, and it’s certainly not worth Perdu’s time.
During Pollack’s commentary, Briere had pulled up the commission’s bylaws on her iPad and shown it to Rampson. When Pollack concluded her remarks, Rampson read aloud the relevant section, and said the bylaws would allow councilmembers to speak during meetings like this.
Kailasapathy responded by saying that Pollack had expressed her own sentiments beautifully. Kailasapathy had attended a couple of forums, and said it’s clear that people are totally dissatisfied with D1 and D2 zoning. The history of how this zoning was developed isn’t relevant. “It’s almost like we have an agenda – we don’t like what the people are saying, so we need to teach them, we need to give them a history lesson.” That’s the kind of attitude she’s seeing, Kailasapathy said. Commissioners need to open up and listen to people talk about why the zoning isn’t working.
Rita Gelman told commissioners that she’d had trouble hearing them during their discussion, since there were no microphones in the room. She noted that she has interest in this topic, because she lives next door to 413 E. Huron [at Sloan Plaza].
Cy Hufano said he’s lived in Ann Arbor about 67 years. There are two green signs at the corner of Huron and Division that say “historic district,” he reported. It’s very interesting to see that. Conceptually, he noted that “you can’t get there from here, but you can get here from there.” He wondered what the vision is for the city. First you get people to align on a vision for the future of the city, then you develop specifications for that vision. By getting people aligned on that future vision, you can get beyond issues of the current conditions, which are typically structural and resource-oriented, he said.
There’s a Biblical saying that “where there is no vision, the people perish.” Hufano said he doesn’t really want to understand the history. He wants to know how people will move beyond all of this contentiousness and disagreement. “I want to understand what’s the vision.” He’d heard that years ago, there was a vision that the Huron Street corridor would be where all high-rise development would be located. If that’s true, where are the zoning ordinances to guide that vision? If you have vision, it will give direction to power, he said. “Where everybody gets bolloxed around is on the power issue,” he concluded.
Ellen Ramsburgh, a member of the city’s historic district commission, said she wanted to echo Nagourney’s comments. The public forums have been very helpful and well-guided by Perdu, and Ramsburgh would appreciate members of the planning commission attending as many of those meetings as they can.
Chuck Gelman began by referring to the forum where the bullying incident was said to have occurred. The problem was that no ground rules had been established, he said. Someone [Will Leaf] had made a “ministerial speech, instead of stating his comments.” Before they speak, people should indicate who they are and where they live and who they’re associated with, so that everyone knows who they are and whether they represent a particular interest, he said. The moderators had no idea what was going on, Gelman said.
Referencing the coffee hours that Perdu is holding on Thursday mornings at Zingerman’s Deli, Gelman reported that Zingerman’s staff didn’t know where those sessions were being held. “So a group of us sat for a half hour waiting for something to happen, and it never did happen.” [The coffee hours are held in the second floor of the new addition to the deli.] He also alleged that the ORC meeting that night was a violation of the state’s Open Meetings Act, though he didn’t indicate why he believed that to be the case. He said he’d sent a copy of the OMA to city councilmembers, and he thought they should read it and be familiar with it. [Three of the 11 current councilmembers attended the ORC meeting – Sabra Briere, Jane Lumm and Sumi Kailasapathy – along with Jack Eaton, who won the Democratic primary election on Aug. 6. That number (3) does not constitute the six needed for a quorum.]
Eppie Potts said she felt she could speak out so that everyone could hear her. Commissioners had been speaking “as though they were about to faint and pass away,” she said. No one has been spoken to be heard. “It’s almost insulting to speak in a way that nobody can hear you.” Potts also urged commissioners not to review the D1 and D2 history. She believes that the history is “being used against us.” It’s used to show how great participation was in that whole A2D2 process, she said, which is meant to show that everyone should like the result. “Hey, there was a lot of discontent and unhappiness, which nobody chooses to remember. There were revolts at some of the meetings. It was not that pretty as history.” She said she tries really hard to forget about those bad times, and just move on.
Don Salberg joked that since many of his thoughts had already been expressed by others, he’d like to pass and accumulate his three minutes of commentary time for some future meeting. [Salberg was, in fact, joking because public commentary time can't be accumulated in this way.]
David Blanchard, chair of the city’s housing and human services advisory board, said he’d been asked by other board members to reach out regarding this issue. From the affordable housing perspective, the D1 and D2 zoning has resulted in a drastic change for affordable housing resources in the community. Regardless of how people felt about planned unit developments (PUDs), “they did provide for a dialogue on council priorities, such as affordable housing,” he said. PUDs had been effective in garnering cash-in-lieu payments that provided revenue to the city’s affordable housing trust fund, he added. [If a developer requests PUD zoning, then the development can demonstrate a public benefit either by including affordable housing units, or a making a contribution to the affordable housing trust fund.]
The D1 and D2 affordable housing premium “hasn’t worked out well,” Blanchard said, because no developer has taken advantage of that premium. In the meantime, there haven’t been any contributions to the affordable housing trust fund, and that impacts housing diversity. When commissioners think about housing diversity, Blanchard urged them to consider low-income housing as well as workforce housing. It’s not a pitch for mandating low-income housing in every development, he added, “but it is a pitch for the idea of thinking about development and development rules in a way that encourages that diversity of housing.” HHSAB would like to be at the table to be part of the input that goes back to city council, he concluded.
Ordinance revisions committee members present: Bonnie Bona (via conference call), Diane Giannola, Kirk Westphal, Wendy Woods. Also: Planning manager Wendy Rampson, consultant Erin Perdu.
Next regular planning commission meeting: Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2013 at 7 p.m. in the second-floor council chambers at city hall, 301 E. Huron St., Ann Arbor. [Check Chronicle event listings to confirm date]
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