Summit Townhomes Project Postponed

An annexation request for the site of the Summit Townhomes project was recommended for approval by the Ann Arbor planning commission on a 6-1 vote, with dissent from Erica Briggs. But the group unanimously voted to follow staff advice by postponing action on a related zoning and area plan. The votes came during the commission’s June 19, 2012 meeting.

The 2.95-acre site at 2081 E. Ellsworth Road, just east of Stone School Road, is currently located in Pittsfield Township. The developer wants to remove an existing single-family home and detached garage, and build 24 townhomes in four, two-story buildings, with attached single-car garages for each unit. The plan calls for R3 (townhouse dwelling district) zoning. The developer is Shawn Barrow of Orlando, Fla.

The development calls for extensive grading on the site, which includes steep slopes. Staff had expressed concerns about the grading and had requested revisions to the plans, which are currently under review.

According to a staff report, the site is adjacent to land owned by the Ann Arbor Public Schools, abutting Bryant Elementary School. Planning staff have suggested that the developer include pedestrian access for future connection with the school. According to a staff report, the planning staff also asked the developer to consider the city master plan’s community-oriented design guidelines when developing the project’s site plan. Those guidelines for townhome developments include rear-accessed garages, front porches, clustered design to preserve natural features, an on-site playground, open space, and pedestrian links with adjacent developments.

Several residents from the nearby Forest Hills Cooperative Townhouse development came to the June 19 meeting to speak in opposition to the development. They argued that this area was already densely developed, with several major housing developments and a lack of services, like places for children to play. Traffic along Ellsworth was also a concern.

In part based on that feedback, commissioners asked staff a range of questions that they’d like to have answered before considering the zoning and area plan request. The commissioners concerns related to zoning options, traffic volume, the location and amount of parkland in that area, and the capacity of utilities to handle increased density.

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