The Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (March 1, 2011): Conducting its business in front of an audience that included more than a dozen Skyline High School students on a class assignment, the planning commission quickly approved revisions to a landscape and screening ordinance that have been in the works for years. They had debated the ordinance extensively at a meeting in December, when they ultimately postponed a vote and asked the staff for additional changes.
On Tuesday, the issue of screening for privacy came up as commissioners discussed a request from the Michigan Alpha Chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon, which had asked for a special exception use that would allow it to convert a church at 730 Tappan into a fraternity house. The building has been the home of the Memorial Christian Church, which plans to move.
Three people spoke during a public hearing on the issue, including a representative from the neighboring sorority, who raised concerns about lighting and privacy – specifically, about the fraternity having “visual access” to the sorority’s sleeping rooms, which face the current church. However, she said she supported the project overall, and commissioners unanimously voted to grant the request.
During her staff communications, Wendy Rampson – head of the city’s planning staff – noted that city administrator Roger Fraser had announced his resignation the previous evening, at a city council working session. His last day with the city will be April 29 – he’s taking a job with the state of Michigan as deputy state treasurer for local government services. Rampson said she’d alert commissioners as soon as a date is set for his farewell gathering.
Rampson also mentioned that at the city council’s March 7 meeting, they’d be voting on a resolution of support for the state’s Complete Streets policies, saying that the city had been following similar policies for decades. Later in the meeting, however, commissioner Erica Briggs expressed some disappointment that the city wasn’t taking additional steps beyond what’s set by the state. “It certainly doesn’t establish us as a leader,” Briggs said.