Stories indexed with the term ‘U-Haul’

Planning Commission OKs Non-Motorized Plan

Ann Arbor planning commission meeting and work session (Sept. 10, 2013): Planning commissioners acted on a change to the city’s master plan, by approving an update to the non-motorized transportation plan.

Ken Clein, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Architect and Ann Arbor planning commissioner Ken Clein shows evidence of his non-motorized transportation – his bicycle helmet. In the background is commissioner Diane Giannola. (Photos by the writer.)

Items in the city’s master plan must receive approval from both the planning commission and the council, so councilmembers will be asked to vote on the update as well. [.pdf of draft 2013 non-motorized transportation plan update]

The 79-page document includes sections on planning and policy, as well as recommendations for short-term and long-term projects, such as bike boulevards, crosswalks, sidewalks and larger efforts like the Allen Creek greenway and Border-to-Border Trail. An additional document – over 100 pages – outlines the update’s public participation process, including emails and comments received during public meetings.

Eli Cooper, the city’s transportation program manager, briefed commissioners on this update, and much of their discussion centered on how to prioritize and implement the items in the plan – especially the funding for sidewalk “gaps.”

Cooper pointed out that implementation relies on including these projects in the city’s capital improvement plan (CIP), which the planning commission reviews and recommends for approval each year. City planning manager Wendy Rampson suggested that the commission could reconvene its CIP committee to talk about these issues.

In its other item of business, commissioners unanimously recommended approval of a proposed expansion to the U-Haul business at 3655 S. State St., south of the I-94 interchange. It will be forwarded to the city council for consideration.

The relatively short meeting – lasting about 90 minutes – was followed by a working session focused on Michigan’s “Redevelopment Ready Communities” program, in which the city of Ann Arbor is participating. [.pdf of program overview]

Rampson described the program as a tool to help communities put in place elements that would allow redevelopment to happen. Those things include master plans that are clear about what community expectations are for new developments, and zoning needs to reflect those expectations in a very specific way. It means that when developers look at a specific property, they’ll be able to know exactly what they can do.

If the city completes the state’s evaluation successfully, Rampson said, then it would be certified as a “Redevelopment Ready” community. This is a relatively new program, but the state has indicated that communities with this certification could receive priority points on grants from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA).

Before the staff can proceed, Rampson explained, the city council must pass a resolution stating that the city can participate. On Oct. 14, the issue will be on the agenda for a joint city council and planning commission working session, although the main topics will be the current downtown zoning review and R4C/R2A zoning revisions.

Commissioners discussed how this program might be received by the community, with Sabra Briere – who also serves on the city council – pointing out that for some people “redevelopment ready” sounds like “tear down all the old stuff.” She noted that development is a very sensitive topic right now.

The issue of development also arose during a brief update from Rampson about the ongoing downtown zoning review. The consultants who are leading this effort – Erin Perdu and Megan Masson-Minock – have put together a workbook that they’ve been presenting at public forums. [.pdf of workbook] The same information is part of an online survey that’s underway through Sept. 17. A final public forum to review all of the feedback gathered so far will be held on Thursday, Sept. 19 starting at 7 p.m. at Workantile, 118 S. Main in downtown Ann Arbor.

The goal is to review the consultants’ recommendations at an Oct. 8 planning commission working session, and then take action on those recommendations at the commission’s Oct. 15 regular meeting. At that point, the recommendations will be transmitted to the council, Rampson said. [Full Story]

U-Haul Expansion OK’d by Planning Group

Ann Arbor planning commissioners unanimously recommended approval of a proposed expansion to the U-Haul business at 3655 S. State St., south of the I-94 interchange. The action took place at the commission’s Sept. 10, 2013 meeting. The project previously had been reviewed by commissioners on July 2, 2013, when they ultimately voted to postpone voting so that the owner could address outstanding issues that had been raised by planning and engineering staff members.

U-Haul, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Aerial view of U-Haul site on South State Street, indicated with crosshatches.

The project calls for building a 1,246-square-foot addition to the front of the existing retail building. … [Full Story]

Hampton Inn Progresses, U-Haul Project Slows

Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (July 2, 2013): In their first meeting of fiscal year 2014, planning commissioners recommended approval of a new Hampton Inn on Jackson Avenue, but postponed a proposed expansion of the U-Haul business on South State Street.

Jeremy Peters, Paras Parekh, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

From left: Jeremy Peters and Paras Parekh cast their first votes as Ann Arbor planning commissioners on July 2, 2013.

The proposal for a Hampton Inn at 2910 Jackson Ave., across the street from Weber’s Inn and next to Clarion Inn, had been postponed at the commission’s June 18, 2013 meeting. The owner was asked to address concerns over pedestrian access within the site.

A June 28 letter from Andy Wakeland, the project’s civil engineer, outlined several changes that the design team made in response to commissioners’ concerns. [.pdf of Wakeland’s letter] The changes include building a wood chip path with a picnic table area along the front wooded area of the site, connecting to two previously proposed entrances from Jackson Avenue. The plan now also includes an alternate pedestrian route at the west entrance, crossing the front parking lot in a more direct route to the hotel’s front door. Several commissioners praised the changes and thanked the development team for being responsive.

In other action, commissioners followed the planning staff’s recommendation and voted to postpone a proposed $1.2 million expansion to the U-Haul business at 3655 S. State St., south of the I-94 interchange. Commissioners spent about an hour raising concerns and asking questions, many related to landscaping, site visibility, and how the site will look from South State Street after the changes are made.

This was also the commission’s annual organizational meeting, when officers are elected and bylaws are reviewed. Kirk Westphal and Wendy Woods were re-elected chair and vice chair, respectively, and Ken Clein was elected secretary, replacing Bonnie Bona. Planning manager Wendy Rampson introduced staff recommendations for changes to the bylaws, including an item regarding the provision of special accommodations for the public, such as a sign language interpreter. The proposed amendment would change the advance notice required for special accommodations from 24 hours to 48 hours. This change is consistent with recent changes adopted by the city clerk’s office, according to Rampson.

July 2 was the first meeting for two new planning commissioners: Jeremy Peters and Paras Parekh. They were appointed last month by the Ann Arbor city council for terms ending June 30, 2016. The former commissioners whose seats they filled – Tony Derezinski and Eric Mahler – were on hand to receive recommendations of appreciation. Derezinski said he was reminded of an old saying from law school: Whoever loves good laws and good sausage should observe neither in the making. “Well, we made a lot of great sausage here,” he said. [Full Story]

Action Postponed on U-Haul Expansion

A vote on a proposed expansion to the U-Haul business at 3655 S. State St., south of the I-94 interchange, was postponed by the Ann Arbor planning commission at its July 2, 2013 meeting. The city’s planning staff had recommended postponement so that the owner can address outstanding issues that had been raised by planning and engineering staff members.

The project calls for building a 1,246-square-foot addition to the front of the existing retail building. The expansion includes a new 4,994-square-foot, one-story warehouse and an 11,696-square-foot, one-story self-storage building. Both of the new buildings would be at the rear of the site and not visible from South State Street. The project is estimated to cost $1.2 million.

A staff memo notes that … [Full Story]