515 N. Fifth Project Moves Forward

Ann Arbor planning commissioners have recommended site plan approval for a residential development at 515 N. Fifth Ave., between Kingsley and Beakes on the west side of North Fifth. The action took place at the commission’s Jan. 3, 2013 meeting on a unanimous vote. The project is a three-story, 8,404-square-foot building with four two-bedroom units: two condominiums and two apartments.

The apartments would be on the second and third floors, while the condos would be on the first floor, with entrances from the north and south sides. Parking would be provided in an attached four-car garage in the front of the structure, though the garage openings are located on the side, toward the front of the building. [.pdf of site plan] [.pdf of aerial map showing site] The site is zoned R4C (multi-family residential district) and the existing house on the site, with three apartments, would be demolished. It was built in 1901. Construction is estimated to cost $925,500.

The owners are requesting a variance from the city’s conflicting land-use buffer ordinance, which requires a 15-foot buffer on the west, north and south sides. The buffer requirement to the west can be met, but the owners want to put in a narrower landscape buffer on the other sides – varying from two to 12 feet on the south, with a 12-foot buffer on the north. There would be a five-foot-high screening fence along the entire perimeter of the site. Approval for this variance is needed from the city’s zoning board of appeals, which is expected to address the issue at its Jan. 23 meeting.

The project had previously been postponed at the commission’s Dec. 4, 2012 meeting, as planning staff recommended giving the owners more time to address a range of issues related to utility, landscaping and natural features analysis. At that meeting, Christine Crockett, who’s president of the Old Fourth Ward Association, and Ray Detter of the downtown citizens advisory council, spoke in opposition of the project. They had cited a range of objections, including their view that the design did not fit with the neighborhood.

Staff had recommended approval of the project. It will now be forwarded to the city council for consideration.

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