Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (Oct. 4, 2011): At a meeting that started later than usual to accommodate the dedication of city hall’s new Dreiseitl water sculpture, planning commissioners approved two projects that had previously been postponed.
Changes to a University Bank site plan for property at 2015 Washtenaw Ave., known as the Hoover Mansion, were approved unanimously, despite some concerns voiced by neighbors during a public hearing on the proposal. The changes – which primarily relate to creation of a new parking lot – required amending the supplemental regulations of the site’s planned unit development (PUD) zoning district originally approved in 1978.
Also back for review was The Varsity, a proposed “planned project” consisting of a 13-story apartment building with 181 units at 425 E. Washington, between 411 Lofts and the First Baptist Church. Intended for students, it’s the first project to go through the city’s new design review process. Only minor changes had been made since the proposal was first considered at the planning commission’s Sept. 20 meeting.
Fourteen people spoke during a public hearing on The Varsity, including several residents of the nearby Sloan Plaza who raised concerns about traffic at the Huron Street entrance, as well as aesthetic issues with the building’s facade facing Huron. The project was supported by a
paster pastor at the First Baptist Church and the head of the State Street merchant association.
In addition to public hearings held on these two projects, one person spoke during public commentary at the start of the meeting. Rick Stepanovic told commissioners that he’s a University of Michigan student, and that Wendy Rampson – head of the city’s planning staff – had spoken to one of his classes last year. Among other things, she’d mentioned the city’s need for more student input, he said. Since then he’s been elected to the Michigan Student Assembly, and was offering to provide that input, either as a resident – he lives in the neighborhood near Packard and Hill – or by taking an issue back to MSA for broader student feedback.
Stepanovic indicated his intent to attend future planning commission meetings, but noted that MSA meetings are held at the same time – on Tuesday evenings.