On Second Vote, Maple Cove Postponed

At its May 1, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor planning commission rescinded its previous action regarding a site plan for the Maple Cove Apartments & Village development and reconsidered the proposal. The reconsideration resulted in a postponement, to get more information from the traffic engineer about whether the proposed two separate entrances to the property created a health, safety and welfare hazard. The vote to postpone was 7-1, with dissent from commission chair Eric Mahler. Bonnie Bona was absent.

The commission had previously approved the project at its March 20, 2012 meeting. But that vote was rescinded because Scio Township residents on Calvin Street had not been included in an original public notice mailed out for the commission’s March meeting. There were no changes to the plan in the interim period.

The project is located on 2.96 acres at 1649 N. Maple, north of Miller Road between North Maple and Calvin Street on the city’s west side. At the March 20 meeting, Bonnie Bona and Eric Mahler had voted against the project.

The plan calls for combining two sites – 1649 N. Maple and 1718 Calvin – and demolishing an existing single-family home and detached garages there. Two 3-story apartment buildings would be built with a 64-space parking lot and eight bike spaces. The project also includes building a private street to serve seven new single-family houses near Calvin Street, but with an entrance off of North Maple. According to a staff memo, there will be no access to Calvin Street, which “is a private street with a checkered history regarding access rights.” The apartment complex would have a separate entrance, also off of North Maple.

Each apartment building would contain a total of 18 one-and two-bedroom apartments ranging from 745 to 1,057 square feet. The plan calls for each apartment building to have a rooftop patio for use by residents, with the possibility of a vegetated cover (green roof) for the remainder of the roof surface. The staff memo noted that the city has requested a $26,660 parks contribution, but the developer has declined to make that contribution.

The site has two zoning designations, which the project accommodates. The eastern half of the parcel, adjacent to North Maple, is zoned O (office), but residential uses are permitted as long as the project conforms to the area, height and placement regulations of office zoning. The maximum height allowed is 55 feet, but the proposed apartment buildings would be 44 feet tall. The western half of the site, where the single-family homes are planned, is zoned R1C (single-family residential).

Site plans for two previous projects had been approved by the city (in 2005 and 2008) but neither project was built. Planning staff had recommended approval of this current project.

Several neighbors attended the May 1 meeting and spoke against the project for a variety of reasons, including density, flooding, aesthetics and traffic. Commissioners also voiced several concerns, but it was the two proposed entrances that prompted the most discussion and ultimately the move to postpone. Wendy Woods pointed out that the city’s traffic engineer had advised that a single entrance would be preferable. The city code allows for two entrances, however, based on the property’s lineal frontage.

A representative of the owner told commissioners that the owner was committed to two entrances in order to market the apartments and single-family homes separately. Mahler cautioned commissioners that after a postponement of the vote, the developer still would be under no obligation to make changes. No date has been set for when the project will next appear on the planning commission agenda.

This brief was filed from the second-floor council chambers at city hall, 301 E. Huron St., where the planning commission holds its meetings. A more detailed report will follow: [link]