Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (Aug. 7, 2013): A light agenda for the planning commission led to two straightforward decisions on rezoning requests for parcels outside the downtown, well away from the area that has generated ongoing controversy. The decisions were both unanimous, with opposite outcomes.
The planning commission heard a request to rezone 3325 Packard from R1C (single-family dwelling) to R2A (two-family dwelling) – and voted unanimously to deny that request. A house had burned on the lot, which sits at the corner of Fernwood and Packard. The economics of rebuilding a single-family house and trying to sell or rent it out weren’t realistic, owner Steve Weaver told the commission.
A duplex, Weaver argued, could help stem the commercial creep coming from the west at Packard and Platt, and provide a “thumb in the dike” to preserve the residential character of that stretch.
But planning commissioner Bonnie Bona reflected the view of commissioners and planning staff that the decision was a “no-brainer” in the context of the city’s master plan, which clearly designates the area for single-family houses. They were reluctant to engage in “spot zoning.”
In voting unanimously to deny the rezoning request, commissioners encouraged Weaver to work with neighboring property owners with the idea of bringing forward a request to rezone an entire blockface.
Weaver has said he will exercise his option to make his rezoning request directly to the city council, even without the planning commission’s support.
The other rezoning request on the commission’s Aug. 7 agenda was to designate some city-owned property on 3875 E. Huron River Drive as PL (public land). The move was characterized as a housekeeping step for the planning commission. During the public hearing on the question, one person addressed the commission indicating support, but with some concern about the range of activities that would be promoted there.
One idea mentioned at the meeting was the possibility that the parcel – sold to the city in 2010 by former U.S. Congressman Wes Vivian – could become the headquarters for the city’s natural area preservation program (NAP). Commissioners encouraged nearby residents to work with the park advisory commission (PAC) as that group helps decide the parcel’s eventual use within the park system.
The commission also heard remarks from the representative of a neighbor opposed to a requested land division on Traver Street. But the decision on that item will be made by planning staff, not the planning commission or the city council.