Council Reduces Fee for Heritage Row

At its Feb. 7, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council voted to reduce the application fee to $2,000 from almost $5,000, if the developer of the Heritage Row project resubmits the planned unit development (PUD) within 90 days. Dissenting from the proposal, which was brought forward by Sandi Smith (Ward 1) and Tony Derezinski (Ward 2), were Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5). Dissenting views held by the public included a letter to the city from nearby property owner Tom Whitaker.

To qualify for the fee waiver, the project would also need to include the same revisions that had been reviewed by city staff – after the project had been rejected, and then rejected again upon reconsideration by the city council in the summer of 2010. The resolution notes that to date, the developer of the project, Alex de Parry, has paid the city over $30,000 in review fees.

The residential project, located on the east side of South Fifth Avenue, would renovate seven houses and construct three new 3.5-story apartment buildings behind those houses, with an underground parking garage. The council initially rejected Heritage Row on June 21, 2010, with a 7-4 vote in favor. It required an 8-vote majority for approval, due to a petition filed by adjoining property owners. The city council then reconsidered the project at its July 6, 2010 meeting, and it failed again, on a 7-3 vote. Then at the council’s Dec. 6, 2010 meeting, some councilmembers seemed poised to suspend council rules to allow another reconsideration, but the vote to suspend council rules failed.

The last proposal reviewed by the city includes the following revisions: (1) the top floor of the new south building would be removed from the design; (2) the density would be reduced from 79 units to 76 units and the number of bedrooms would be reduced from 154 to 147; (3) the project would include five affordable units at the 50% AMI (average median income) level, in addition to six affordable units at the 80% AMI level; and (4) the three new buildings would be LEED certified.

This brief was filed from the boardroom in the Washtenaw County administration building, where the council is meeting due to renovations in the city hall building. A more detailed report will follow: [link]