On Third Try, Maple Cove Project OK’d

At its June 5, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor planning commission recommended approval of a site plan for the Maple Cove Apartments & Village development. 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.

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. The apartment complex would have a separate entrance, also off of North Maple.

The project has a somewhat unusual history. Planning commissioners originally approved it at their 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 But that vote was rescinded because Scio Township residents on Calvin Street had not been included in an original public notice mailed out for the commission’s March meeting.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, but at their May 1, 2012 meeting, commissioners voted to postpone action 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. According to city planning staff, the city’s traffic engineer raised some concerns, but he subsequently confirmed that the site plan – with two entrances off of North Maple – does conform with city code.

Two residents of Calvin Street spoke during a public hearing on the project, both of them objecting to the project. Several commissioners expressed disappointment in the project, but noted that because it conforms with the city’s ordinances, they had no choice in approving it. Erica Briggs said it pointed to the need to reexamine some of the problems in the zoning code that led to this situation.

The commission’s vote was unanimous, but only six of the nine commissioners were present. Absent were Bonnie Bona, Evan Pratt and Kirk Westphal. The commission’s recommendation will now be forwarded to the Ann Arbor city council for its consideration.

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]