A plan to tear down the existing Delta Chi fraternity house on Hill Street and build a much larger structure in its place has received a recommendation of approval from the Ann Arbor planning commission.
The fraternity plans to demolish the existing 4,990-square-foot house at 1705 Hill St. – at the northwest corner of Hill and Oxford – and replace it with a 12,760-square-foot structure on three levels, including a basement. The current occupancy of 23 residents would increase to 34 people, including a resident manager.
The house is now on the northwest corner of the site, and a curbcut for the driveway is located at the intersection of Hill and Oxford. The proposal calls for building the new house closer to the southeast corner of the lot, with a parking lot on the west side and a new curbcut onto Hill – away from the intersection. [.pdf of staff report]
The minimum parking requirement is for seven spaces, but the plan calls for 16 spaces on the parking lot. There will be a shed with spaces for 20 bikes, and another four bike spaces in the back yard.
The project is expected to cost $2.2 million.
The fraternity declined to make a recommended voluntary parks contribution of $3,100 to the city. A statement from the fraternity gives their rationale for that decision: ”While we can see the merit of such a donation for a large, new development that may bring additional residents to the city, we feel that this is not fitting in our situation. The Delta Chi Building Association has owned this property continuously since 1947, and during that time has consistently paid our property taxes and special millage assessments designated for Parks and Recreation. During our 67 years of ownership, we believe that we have contributed much more than the contribution suggested to support the Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation system.”
No one spoke during the public hearing for this project, but a fraternity representative fielded questions about the decision not to make the voluntary parks contribution. Commissioners Wendy Woods and Bonnie Bona expressed skepticism that fraternity members didn’t use city parks, and asked that the request be reconsidered.
In two separate votes, the planning commission unanimously recommended approval of a site plan and granted a special exception use for the project. A special exception use is required because the property is zoned R2B (two-family dwelling district and student dwelling district). Fraternities are only allowed in R2B districts if granted special exception use by the planning commission. No additional city council approval is required for that.
The site plan does require city council approval.
This brief was filed from the second-floor council chambers at city hall, 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow.