Medical Marijuana Rezoning Request Denied

Other State Street zoning – affecting Biercamp – postponed

Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (Aug. 16, 2011): Two zoning-related requests on South State Street received mixed responses from planning commissioners, amid calls for a formal study of that corridor.

Treecity Health Collective

Treecity Health Collective, a medical marijuana dispensary on South State Street. (Photos by the writer.)

One request was the first tied to the city council’s recent approval of zoning regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries. The operator of Treecity Health Collective, a dispensary at 1712 S. State, asked that the location be rezoned from O (office) to C1 (local business). In June 2011, the council approved amendments to the city’s zoning ordinances that prevent medical marijuana dispensaries from operating in office zoning districts. Rather than relocate the dispensary, the operator was asking for the zoning change. The property is located on the west side of State, south of Stimson.

While expressing sympathy for the operator, commissioners recommended denying the rezoning request, noting that the master plan calls for an office district in that area. It will now be forwarded to the city council for final action.

The commission considered a separate request for nearby parcels on the opposite side of South State, where the new Biercamp Artisan Sausage and Jerky opened about a month ago. The property – 1643 and 1645 S. State St., south of the Produce Station – is in Ann Arbor Township, and requires both annexation and zoning. The commission recommended approval of annexing the land, but postponed a decision on zoning. Biercamp owners are hoping for commercial zoning, which would allow them to expand the retail component of their business. The city’s master plan currently calls for light industrial zoning in that section.

In discussions for both Treecity and Biercamp requests, some commissioners pointed to the need for a comprehensive study of the South State Street corridor. Such a study has been planned, but earlier this year the city council voted against funding a consultant to conduct the work.

In other action, commissioners recommended annexing several Scio Township parcels that are located in a recently expanded well prohibition zone related to the Pall/Gelman Sciences 1,4 dioxane underground plume. Pall is paying for the hook-ups to city water and sewer, according to city planning staff.

Commissioners also recommended approval of a site plan at 3590 Washtenaw Ave., at the southwest corner of Washtenaw Avenue and Yost Boulevard. The plan calls for building a 9,500-square-foot, single-story addition to the existing 15,769-square-foot retail building that currently houses the Dollar Tree. It’s in the spot where Frank’s Nursery formerly operated, along the same stretch that’s part of the Reimagining Washtenaw Avenue project.

Wendy Rampson, the city’s planning manager, gave several updates to the commission. Among them, she noted that four projects previously approved by the city council are now asking for two-year extensions on their site plans: (1) The Gallery planned unit development (PUD) on North Main, at the site of the former Greek Orthodox church; (2) the 42 North residential development at Maple and Pauline; (3) the Forest Cove office building on Miller; and (4) the Mallets View office building on Eisenhower. Those requests are being reviewed by city planning staff.

During his communications from city council, Tony Derezinski, who also represents Ward 2 on council, mentioned that a final meeting for the R4C/R2A advisory committee is tentatively set for Sept. 21. He noted that the 21st is also Saint Matthew’s Feast Day, which he quipped might help the group finish up the project.

One member of that advisory committee is former planning commissioner Jean Carlberg, who received a resolution of appreciation from the commission at the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting. Her term ended June 30 – she served on the commission for 16 years.

South State Annexation & Zoning – Biercamp

The planning commission was asked to consider annexation of two parcels located in Ann Arbor Township “islands” – 1643 and 1645 S. State St., south of Stimson and next to the Produce Station. The property is owned by Stefan Hofmann, but the request was spurred by a new business – Biercamp Artisan Sausage and Jerky – that Hannah Cheadle and Walt Hansen opened at 1643 S. State about a month ago.

Biercamp building

Biercamp Artisan Sausage and Jerky is located at 1643 S. State – the building on the left.

The parcels cover about 0.6 acres and include four non-residential buildings. In addition to Biercamp, other businesses on the property include Zak’s Auto Shop and Hofmann’s Furniture. The building at 1645 S. State is used for storage.

In the township, the site is zoned for light industrial. Hansen and Cheadle have requested that the parcels be zoned by the city for commercial use. This would allow them to expand the business – they eventually would like to sell Michigan craft beer and wine at the shop.

They have also applied to the township for a certificate of occupancy at that site, which would allow the business to be grandfathered in under zoning that permits it to sell items produced there. The city’s master plan calls for light industrial zoning in that area, but only allows for retail space to occupy 20% of the building’s floor area, to sell products made on-site.

Planning staff recommended annexing the properties, but postponing the zoning request until the issue of a certificate of occupancy is resolved with the township. Staff also recommended postponing action on a request to waive the area plan requirement for the site. A waiver is requested because no changes to the site are proposed.

South State Annexation & Rezoning – Biercamp: Public Hearing

The only speakers during a public hearing on the issue were Biercamp owners Walt Hansen and Hannah Cheadle. Cheadle noted that they’d come to the meeting straight from work: “We probably smell like smoked sausages.” She told commissioners that she and Hansen were originally from northern Michigan, but had lived in New York City for six years before moving to Ann Arbor about six months ago to open their business.

Walt Hansen and Hannah Cheadle

Walt Hansen and Hannah Cheadle, owners of Biercamp Artisan Sausage and Jerky.

She said they felt the zoning to C3 (fringe commercial district) was appropriate, since the property is located near commercially zoned land along Stimson and South Industrial. The store is directly adjacent to the Produce Station, which is located to the north on State.

An appraisal done on the two properties included a zoning analysis, Cheadle said. The appraiser had talked to city planner Matt Kowalski, who had said C3 zoning would be appropriate in the context of other zoning in the area, she reported.

Cheadle told commissioners that during the month that the Biercamp has been open, the response from customers has been amazing. More than 300 people have already signed up to receive the store’s email, she said. Cheadle noted that one of the city’s concerns is if the parcels were zoned C3, it would be possible for other types of businesses – like drive-through fast food restaurants – to open there, if Biercamp went out of business. Biercamp is there for the long-haul, she said, but they would be limited if the land is zoned for light industrial.

Hansen added that they hope to eventually start selling Michigan beer and wine in the shop.

South State Annexation & Rezoning – Biercamp: Commissioner Discussion

Diane Giannola led off the discussion, saying she didn’t support zoning the land as C3 or C2B (business service district). She said she felt for the owners, but this would amount to spot zoning, which she said the courts have shown is illegal. Even though it’s a great business and the kind of company that the city hopes to see, the problem is what type of business might want to operate there later, she said. If the city approves this type of zoning, then owners of the parcel next to them could use the same excuse to change the zoning too – and it would just continue down State Street. The city needs to be consistent with its master plan, she said.

Further, planning staff and commissioners have talked about the need to do a comprehensive study of the South State Street corridor, Giannola noted. But the city council hadn’t approved funding of the study. To her, that action showed that councilmembers aren’t interested in rezoning the area.

There are many other places in the city where the business could operate and be successful, Giannola said. Just because the owners didn’t do their due diligence before locating there doesn’t mean the city should make an exception about the zoning and risk a lawsuit, she concluded.

Tony Derezinski said he appreciated Giannola’s heartfelt comments, but there’s another side. Sometimes an area is zoned for one purpose but it evolves to be appropriate for other uses, he said. In this case, having Biercamp located next to the Produce Station is a benefit to customers of both businesses, he said. It’s a unique parcel, he added, in part because it’s a township island. For those reasons, Derezinski didn’t think it would set a precedent for zoning, and it’s the type of business the city wants to encourage.

City planner Chris Cheng clarified that the reason for the annexation related to the need to hook up to the city’s sewer system. That has now occurred – the site had already been hooked up to city water. He noted that the township’s I-1 light industrial zoning is very similar to the city’s M-1 limited industrial zoning. The main difference is that the township would allow products made on site to be sold in 100% of the floor area. For the city, M-1 zoning only allows sales on 20% of the floor area. But if the township grants Biercamp a certificate of occupancy before annexation occurs, that would allow the city to grandfather in the business under the township’s zoning, Cheng said.

Cheng noted that the city planning staff feels that M-1 zoning is appropriate for this site.

Erica Briggs strongly supported zoning the parcels as commercial – probably C2B would be best, she said, since it would prevent drive-through businesses. If commissioners simply looked at the south area plan, then M-1 zoning would apply, she observed, but that plan is out of date. Looking at more current indicators – including environmental and sustainability goals – all point to this kind of use, she said: locally produced food, and neighborhood businesses that people can reach by biking or walking. It would be crazy not to support and nurture this, she said. If this type of business continues down State Street, she added, “I say great – all the better.”

The original plan for that area had envisioned it becoming a tech corridor, Briggs noted, but on the ground, it’s evolving into something else. She said she’d support C2B zoning for the parcels.

Kirk Westphal drew out the fact that Biercamp was operating without a certificate of occupancy from the township, and that this was somewhat unusual. He clarified with Cheng that the township’s light industrial zoning was more permissive regarding how much of the floor area could be used for retail.

Westphal confirmed this is not the first time that a zoning change has been requested in that area. Cheng reported that the property management firm McKinley had previously requested rezoning from light industrial to commercial for a property further south on State Street, where Tim Horton’s was interested in building a shop. That request had been denied.

In that case, Westphal said, it was a fairness issue – coupled with the fact that the city intends to study that entire corridor in the future. For those reasons, he was inclined to defer to the planning staff regarding their zoning recommendation for the two parcels. The commission also needs to think long-term, he said, and if ownership of the property changes hands, other businesses might open that don’t fit in that area. Westphal said he’d be in favor of doing a corridor study as soon as possible, and he hoped that Biercamp could continue to operate in that location in the meantime.

Wendy Woods, Diane Giannola

From left: Planning commissioners Wendy Woods and Diane Giannola.

Wendy Woods was curious to know what would happen if the parcels were annexed, but the zoning remained unresolved. What would it mean for the business? Wendy Rampson, head of the city’s planning staff, said that was tricky. The city doesn’t want to inherit an unresolved situation, she said, and it’s currently in the township’s hands. So far, there’s been good collaboration between the two jurisdictions, she added.

Woods said it seemed like there’s an informal agreement with the Produce Station to use parking for Biercamp customers – is that the case? No, there’s no agreement, Cheng said, although it’s true that some customers who park at the Produce Station do walk over to Biercamp’s shop.

Bonnie Bona wondered why this was coming forward now – why did the business need to connect to water and sewer now, if that hadn’t been an issue previously? Cheadle came forward and responded, saying that she and Hansen had approached the township for an analysis of the parcel’s septic system, after being told by a state health inspector that this was a requirement prior to opening their business. At that point, they were told by the township that the property needed to be hooked up to the city’s sewer system instead, because Biercamp was a new business. The property had previously been hooked up to city water.

Rampson clarified that the property owner, Stefan Hofmann, had been told in 2009 that he needed to connect to a city sewer. He had not come forward voluntarily to do that, she said, so that’s why the issue emerged when Cheadle and Hansen approached the township.

Hansen then clarified that the only reason he and Cheadle were requesting a certificate of occupancy was so that they could be grandfathered in under the township’s zoning. Cheng reported that the township is expected to issue the certificate soon, based on his conversations with township planning staff.

Bona said she hoped the certificate of occupancy would be granted, so that Biercamp could continue to operate there, rather than having them risk being annexed into a zoning category that wouldn’t permit their business. She noted that she struggled with conflicting issues. The master plan is about more than just land use – it relates to transportation, traffic and other issues. The State Street corridor has some of the most intense traffic in the city, she said, especially near Stimson, where the road narrows down from four to two lanes. All she can do, she added, is push for a corridor study so that the zoning is well-planned and not arbitrary.

Meanwhile, Bona added, she hoped that Hansen and Cheadle had a backup plan. She noted that there are a lot of commercial vacancies in the city, especially along Washtenaw Avenue. Bona also asked that a better explanation of the parking arrangement with the Produce Station be provided.

Eric Mahler asked what would happen if Biercamp doesn’t get a certificate of occupancy, and the parcels are annexed under the city’s M-1 zoning. In that case, Cheng said, Cheadle and Hansen would likely be back to the planning commission to lobby harder for C3 or C2B rezoning.

Outcome: Commissioners unanimously voted to approve recommending annexation – the request will now move forward to the city council for approval. A request to zone the properties as C3 (fringe commercial district) was postponed, as was a request to waive the site’s area plan requirement.

After the vote, Derezinski asked Cheadle and Hansen when their shop is open. The store hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Biercamp is closed on Sundays.

Treecity Health Collective Rezoning

In the first such request to the Ann Arbor planning commission following the city council’s approval of zoning regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries, the operator of Treecity Health Collective, a dispensary at 1712 S. State, asked that the location be rezoned from O (office) to C1 (local business). A waiver of the area plan requirement for that location was also requested.

Planning staff recommended denying the request, because C1 zoning is not consistent with adjacent zoning, land uses and the city’s master plan. City planner Chris Cheng told commissioners that the type of zoning requested would be considered spot zoning, and not appropriate.

The Treecity Health Collective opened in 2010. This summer, the Ann Arbor city council approved amendments to the city’s zoning ordinances that prevent medical marijuana dispensaries from operating in office zoning districts – those changes are set to take effect on Aug. 22, 2011. Rather than relocate the dispensary, the business owner – Dori Edwards – is asking for the zoning change. The property is located on the west side of State, south of Stimson, and is owned by Francis Clark.

Treecity Health Collective Rezoning: Public Hearing

Dori Edwards was the only person to speak during the public hearing on these requests. Treecity is a nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary, she said, and provides other health practitioner services. Although the building is located in an area zoned for offices, the neighboring businesses are non-traditional – a masseuse and a palm-reader.

Dori Edwards

Dori Edwards, employee of Treecity Health Collective, during a public hearing at the Aug. 16, 2011 Ann Arbor planning commission meeting.

The city council has broad discretion to deviate from the city’s master plan, she noted. Edwards said she’s not a planner, but she did read through the city’s master plan online, and could not find anything that indicated her zoning request would be illegal. The city already allows spot zoning to occur, via planned unit developments (PUDs), she said. That kind of zoning requires public benefit, and Edwards said it’s a public benefit to allow her nonprofit to operate at its current location, because of the nature of her clientele. She urged commissioners to approve the rezoning request.

Treecity Health Collective Rezoning: Commissioner Discussion

Diane Giannola began by saying that this request proved the point she made during the Biercamp discussion. The site was located across the street and a couple of parcels south of the Biercamp location. So how could the city approve one request and not the other? It’s arbitrary, she said. The city needs to do a study of the South State Street corridor so that rezoning doesn’t occur arbitrarily.

She asked why the recent zoning ordinance for medical marijuana dispensaries didn’t allow that type of business in areas zoned for offices. City planner Chris Cheng said the reason was that dispensaries seemed more akin to pharmacies, not medical offices.

Bonnie Bona asked why the request was for C1 zoning, not C3 or C2B. Cheng replied that C1 was the minimal intensity of commercial zoning that would still allow the dispensary to operate – it doesn’t allow for uses like auto shops or manufacturing. But city staff wouldn’t recommend any type of commercial zoning, he said.

Then directing her comments to Edwards, Bona said that PUDs require additional public benefits tied to the site plan – the public benefit isn’t simply the type of business that’s located there.

Wendy Woods acknowledged that she hadn’t followed the council deliberations on medical marijuana closely. She wondered if the council’s intent was to restrict dispensaries to certain districts in town. She assumed they’d discussed the possibility of grandfathering in the locations of existing dispensaries?

Tony Derezinski, who also represents Ward 2 on city council, said the council wanted to avoid legal challenges to the ordinance. However, they also wanted to plan for dispensaries to be located in certain areas, with restrictions like distances from schools and churches, he said. There were no specific discussions about instances like the one now being considered by the planning commission, he said.

Derezinski went on to describe the state referendum regarding medical marijuana as poorly written and very ambiguous. For the council’s part, the general notion was to take a more restrictive approach to zoning, he said.

Woods asked if there were other dispensaries located in areas where the newly-enacted zoning would no longer allow them to operate. There are several located in office districts, said Wendy Rampson, head of the city’s planning staff. One dispensary held a citizen participation meeting in July, but decided not to pursue rezoning. Cheng noted that no one showed up for the Treecity citizen participation meeting related to the rezoning request.

Erica Briggs said she was frustrated and torn by this situation. This dispensary seemed to her to be an appropriate use of office space, fitting with compatible businesses in the area. No one came to the public hearing to complain, she noted. So she wished that dispensaries were allowed in office districts – but acknowledged that they’re not.

This request differed from the Biercamp request because the Treecity property isn’t located adjacent to other commercially zoned land, Briggs said. She supported extending commercial businesses along South State, but there’s not a precedent for doing that yet. She expressed sympathy for Edwards’ situation.

Kirk Westphal asked whether the fact that Treecity is a nonprofit has any bearing on the request. It does not, Cheng replied. Westphal confirmed with Cheng that any change in zoning would be attached to the land, not the business. Westphal said it was a shame that the state law is vague and that livelihoods are being disrupted, but he couldn’t support the rezoning request.

Giannola asked whether Edwards could apply for a special exception use, to allow her to operate the dispensary at that site. Cheng said he didn’t believe that would be possible. Rampson explained that the zoning ordinance would have to be amended in order to allow a special exception use for the dispensary. That process would begin with the planning commission, she said.

Outcome: Commissioners unanimously voted against recommending approval of the rezoning request. The recommendation will be forwarded to the city council.

Site Plan for Former Frank’s Nursery

Commissioners were asked to approve a site plan for 3590 Washtenaw Ave., at the southwest corner of Washtenaw Avenue and Yost Boulevard. The plan calls for building a 9,500-square-foot, single-story addition to the existing 15,769-square-foot retail building that currently houses the Dollar Tree. The new space is designated for an additional tenant.

The building addition would replace an existing unenclosed canopy area used by the former tenant, Frank’s Nursery. The site is part of a larger retail center along Washtenaw Avenue that consists of five parcels with the same owner. The site plan includes construction of a new public sidewalk in the Yost Boulevard right-of-way fronting the site. An existing 22-foot service drive on the north part of the site would be converted from pavement to turf, and a new 10-foot-wide non-motorized path is proposed.

The project had previously received approval from the Washtenaw County water resources commissioner for its stormwater system, using bioswales and underground pipes in the parking lot area. Since then, changes were made to the city’s landscape ordinance, which now requires additional modifications to the bioswales and an additional review by the water resources commissioner. That approval is required before the site plan will be placed on a city council agenda. The bioswales will be planted with native vegetation, including trees, and will also act as the required interior parking lot landscaping.

Site Plan for Former Frank’s Nursery: Public Hearing

Two people spoke during the public hearing. Damien Farrell, the project’s architect, said he was there on behalf of the owner [Renken Associates] to answer any questions.

Dennis Ritchie told commissioners that he’d lived for 35 years in a home just south of the Washtenaw Avenue property, and he was pleased to see improvements in the shopping district. It would do nothing but improve his experience as a homeowner if a viable business was located there, he said. The Dollar Tree is less of a problem for him than Frank’s Nursery was – now there’s no one on a PA system saying there’s two bags of sheep shit to be loaded, he quipped.

Ritchie noted that the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority intends to create a pullout along that stretch of Washtenaw Avenue. He wanted to ensure that the site plan wouldn’t have an impact on that project.

Site Plan for Former Frank’s Nursery: Commissioner Discussion

Tony Derezinski agreed that having a vibrant business was better than a vacant property, as is now the case. The site is one of the major pieces in the Reimagining Washtenaw Avenue project, he said, noting that it was part of the bus tour that commissioners had taken earlier this year during their retreat. [The revitalization effort focuses on a five-mile stretch between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, which also crosses land within Pittsfield and Ypsilanti townships. It's the county’s most congested – and, in many sections, blighted – commercial corridor. For background, see Chronicle coverage: "County Board Briefed on Washtenaw Corridor"]

Wendy Woods asked where the pedestrian crossing would be across Washtenaw Avenue. At the intersection with Pittsfield Boulevard, Rampson answered. Woods then asked whether the Reimagining Washtenaw project team is still meeting, and if another crossing is being considered? [Arborland is located across the street from the site that was being discussed by the planning commission. There is no bus stop currently in that area on the Arborland side, so people using the bus must walk across Washtenaw, a high-traffic roadway.]

Derezinski said that the AATA had been unceremoniously thrown out of Arborland – the owners of Arborland no longer wanted a bus stop within the shopping complex, and it had been removed in 2009. The stop is now located on the opposite (south) side of Washtenaw Avenue. There’s the possibility of putting a stop on the north side, he added, on property not owned by Arborland, but that hasn’t been finalized.

As for Reimagining Washtenaw, there had been a personnel transition, he said. Anya Dale, the former Washtenaw County planner who staffed the project, has taken a job at the University of Michigan. Derezinski said he’s talked with Mary Jo Callan, head of the county department that’s now overseeing the project – he reported that Callan is determined to keep it alive.

Rampson noted that while the only pedestrian crossing now in that area is at Washtenaw and Pittsfield, the Michigan Dept. of Transportation (MDOT) is working on an pedestrian underpass project at Washtenaw and US-23. As part of that, there’s discussion about the possibility of a pedestrian crossing at Washtenaw and Yost, she said. City planning staff will be meeting with MDOT officials later this month to talk about these possibilities.

Kirk Westphal asked about the materials that would be used on the building. Farrell said his client had been negotiating with a potential tenant for a long time, and they hadn’t yet settled on specifics. If the tenant signs on, they’ll have some of their own requirements, he said.

Bonnie Bona questioned why there’s a 40-foot-wide lane in the parking lot – is that necessary? Farrell said that’s the way the site is currently configured, and there are no plans to change it. Bona suggested alternatives that would narrow the lane, such as increasing the size of traffic islands or adding more landscaping.

Bona also pointed to landscaping on the building’s east side, and said that might be an opportunity to create some public space, like an area for outdoor seating.

Outcome: Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the site plan. It will now be forwarded to the city council.

Annexation of Scio Township Parcels

On the agenda was a request to annex seven parcels from Scio Township – totaling about 2.94 acres – and to zone them R1C (single-family residential). The sites are: 545 Allison Drive; 427 Barber Ave.; 3225 Dexter Road; 3249 Dexter Road; 3313 Dexter Road and a vacant adjacent lot; and 305 Pinewood Street. The annexation and zoning also requires city council approval.

The sites are located in a recently expanded well prohibition zone related to the Pall/Gelman Sciences 1,4 dioxane underground plume. Pall is paying for the hook-ups to city water and sewer, according to city planning staff.

No one spoke during a public hearing on the annexation.

Chris Cheng of the city’s planning staff clarified that the master plan calls for all parcels there to be zoned R1C.

Outcome: Planning commissioners unanimously recommended annexing and rezoning the Scio Township properties. The request will be forwarded the city council for approval.

Honoring Jean Carlberg

At the start of Tuesday’s meeting, the commission presented a resolution of appreciation to former commissioner Jean Carlberg, whose term ended June 30. She served on the commission for 16 years.

Bunyan Bryant Jr., Jean Carlberg

Jean Carlberg with her husband, Bunyan Bryant Jr.

Carlberg is a Democrat whose 12 years on the city council – representing Ward 3 from 1994 to 2006 – overlapped with her time on the planning commission. After stepping down from the commission, she is no longer serving on any other city government boards or commissions. She is a board member of the Washtenaw Housing Alliance, a nonprofit consortium of groups working to end homelessness in the county.

The resolution of appreciation – read by planning commission chair Eric Mahler – cited Carlberg’s “thoughtful and pragmatic approach to projects and issues being considered by the Ann Arbor City Planning Commission,” and stated that she “provided innovation, leadership, equanimity and tireless diligence to the City Planning Commission and the City of Ann Arbor in the interest of the City’s planning efforts.” The resolution stated that the commission will miss her “knowledge, expertise, thoughtfulness and quiet humor.”

Carlberg was on hand to accept the resolution, which was given to her on a wooden plaque. She told her former colleagues that she learned a lot during her tenure, both from the planning staff and from the other commissioners, who bring a breadth of experience to their discussions. The diverse backgrounds of commissioners are a benefit, she said, with each person raising individual concerns from their perspectives.

”I miss you all. I miss the work,” Carlberg said. She received a round of applause from commissioners.

Eleanore Adenekan was appointed in July to replace the position vacated by Carlberg.

Misc. Communications

Wendy Rampson, head of the city’s planning staff, gave several updates. She reminded commissioners that their next regular meeting would be on Thursday, Sept. 8, following the Labor Day holiday. Their next working session, on Tuesday, Sept. 13, would be devoted to a talk on sustainability by Dick Norton, chair of the University of Michigan’s urban and regional planning program. [Planning commissioners had been briefed on the city's efforts to develop a sustainability framework at their working session earlier this month. The park advisory commission received a similar briefing at their Aug. 16 meeting.]

Rampson also said that the Summers-Knoll School project is being revised. At its May 17, 2011 meeting, the planning commission had granted a special exception use to allow the school to move to a building at 2203 Platt. At that meeting, commissioners had asked that the school add a continuous sidewalk along the east side of the building, and ensure clearly defined walkways to all of the entrances. In addition to that work, Rampson said, school officials have also decided to change the configuration of the parking lot, and have asked for an administrative amendment to do that work. It does not require additional commission approval.

Rampson also reported that developers on several projects are asking for site plan extensions. These are site plans that have been approved by the city council, but that haven’t yet been constructed. City code allows for extensions of that approval in two-year increments, she explained. Now the city staff are reviewing the projects to make sure they still conform with city ordinances, which might have changed since the projects were initially approved. For example, the city council gave final approval in January 2011 to a set of changes in the city’s zoning code for regulations affecting area, height and placement (AHP). The city’s landscaping ordinance has also been recently revised.

There are requests for site plan extensions on four projects: (1) The Gallery planned unit development (PUD) on North Main, at the site of the former Greek Orthodox church, (2) the 42 North residential development at Maple and Pauline, (3) the Forest Cove office building on Miller, and (4) the Mallets View office building on Eisenhower.

During his communications from city council, Tony Derezinski, who also represents Ward 2 on city council, mentioned that a final meeting for the R4C/R2A advisory committee is tentatively set for Sept. 21. He noted that the 21st is also Saint Matthew’s Feast Day, which he said might help the group finish up the project. [See Chronicle coverage: "No Consensus on Residential Zoning Changes"]

Present: Bonnie Bona, Erica Briggs, Eleanore Adenekan, Diane Giannola, Eric Mahler, Kirk Westphal, Wendy Woods, Tony Derezinski.

Absent: Evan Pratt.

Next regular meeting: The planning commission next meets on Thursday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. in the second-floor council chambers at city hall, 301 E. Huron St., Ann Arbor. [confirm date]

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