Final approval to the rezoning of three Ann Arbor Housing Commission properties, and initial approval for rezoning of a fourth property, has been given by the Ann Arbor city council.
The planning commission had recommended the three rezonings at its May 6, 2014 meeting. Initial city council action came on June 2, 2014. And final action by the council came at its July 7, 2014 meeting.
The current PL (public land) zoning for some of the properties is a vestige of the AAHC properties’ status as city-owned land. The city council approved the transfer of deeds to the AAHC at its June 2, 2013 meeting. The three sites given final rezoning approval on July 7 are part of the housing commission’s major initiative to upgrade the city’s public housing units by seeking private investors through low-income housing tax credits.
Final approval for rezoning was given for the following three sites, two of which are currently zoned as public land:
- Baker Commons: Rezone public land to D2 (downtown interface). The 0.94-acre lot is located at 106 Packard Street, at the intersection with South Main, in Ward 5. It includes a 64-unit apartment building.
- Green/Baxter Court Apartments: Rezone public land to R4A (multi-family dwelling district). The 2-acre site is located at 1701-1747 Green Road and contains 23 apartments in four buildings and a community center. It’s in Ward 2.
- Maple Meadows: Currently zoned R1C (single-family dwelling district), the recommendation is to rezone it as R4B (multi-family dwelling district). The site is 3.4 acres at 800-890 South Maple Road and contains 29 apartments in five buildings and a community center. It’s located in Ward 5.
AAHC director Jennifer Hall has explained that PL zoning doesn’t allow housing to be built on a parcel. As AAHC seeks private funding to rehab its properties, it needs to ensure if a building burns down, for example, it could be rebuilt. In general that’s why the rezoning is being requested. It’s also being requested to align the zoning with the current uses of the property. The highest priority properties to be rezoned are Baker Commons, Green/Baxter and Maple Meadows, because investors have already been found to renovate those sites.
For these three sites, planning commissioners also voted to waive the area plan requirements for the AAHC rezoning petitions, because no new construction is proposed and surveys of the improvements have been provided.
For additional background on the AAHC process of renovating its properties, see Chronicle coverage: “Public Housing Conversion Takes Next Step.”
In a related action on July 7, the council gave initial approval for rezoning an AAHC site on North Maple.
The rezoning is for a 4.8-acre site at 701 N. Maple Road – from R1C (single-family dwelling district) to R4B (multi-family dwelling district).
The site is on the west side of North Maple, between Dexter Avenue and Hollywood Drive. [.pdf of staff report]
The site plan calls for demolishing 20 existing single-family homes – the public housing complex known as North Maple Estates – and constructing an eight-building, 42-unit apartment complex with a total of 138 bedrooms. The units range in size from one bedroom to five bedrooms. The project would include a playground, community building and 73 parking spaces. According to a staff memo, the buildings would be located along a T-shaped driveway that connects to North Maple Road and Dexter Avenue. The drive extends northward toward Vine Court but does not connect with that street. There would be a new connection to Dexter Avenue through the remaining, undeveloped length of Seybold Drive.
The project will require the city to vacate a portion of the right-of-way for Seybold Drive. The surrounding land is owned by the housing commission, so if the right-of-way vacation is approved, the land would become part of the housing commission property.
The site plan was not in front of the city council on July 7. Only the initial rezoning approval and a resolution of intent to vacate right-of-way for Seybold Drive appeared on the agenda. That resolution of intent set a public hearing for Aug. 18, 2014 – the same council meeting when a vote will be taken on the vacation’s approval. The rezoning will also need a second vote of approval from the council at a future meeting.
Planning staff noted three issues that need to be resolved before the project gets approval from city council:
The parcel containing two duplex buildings also owned by the Ann Arbor Housing Commission in the northeast corner of the site must be combined with the subject site, forming a single parcel as a requirement for issuance of any permits.
The legal description and comparison chart data must be confirmed to include the duplex parcel.
The northern-most parking stall, nearest the connection to Vine Court, must be relocated outside of the minimum front setback area.
According to the staff memo, after the planning commission’s June 3 meeting, the city’s traffic engineer reviewed the proposed new connection from Seybold Drive onto Dexter Avenue, and concluded that sight distances from all approaches are acceptable. He suggested that the pavement markings on Dexter should be refreshed.
The reconstruction of North Maple Estates is also part of the ongoing effort by the housing commission to upgrade the city’s housing stock for low-income residents. At the planning commission’s May 6, 2014 meeting, AAHC executive director Jennifer Hall had made a presentation about the initiative, which includes seeking private investors through low-income housing tax credits.
Also at its July 7 meeting, the council confirmed the appointment of Audrey Wojtkowiak to the board of the Ann Arbor Housing Commission, to fill the vacancy left by Christopher Geer. Wojtkowiak’s nomination was made at the council’s June 16 meeting. She’s controller for the Consolidation Center at Detroit Diesel.
This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron.