Townhouse Zoning Goes Back to Planning

A request to zone a 2.95-acre site, just east of Stone School Road, as R3 (townhouse dwelling district) has been referred back to the Ann Arbor planning commission. The city council elected to make the referral at its Feb. 4, 2013 meeting instead of giving the zoning its final approval. The property was recently annexed into the city from Pittsfield Township.

The city’s planning commission had voted to recommend the rezoning at its Nov. 20, 2012 meeting and the city council gave initial approval at its Jan. 7, 2013 meeting.

When the council gave its initial approval, Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) had indicated that while he was voting for the zoning on that occasion, he wanted to alert his council colleagues to the fact that he’d heard some concerns about the type of progress and development that the zoning represents. Taylor represents Ward 3, where the proposed project is located. So Taylor said the issue might be a point of discussion when the council was asked to give the zoning its final approval. That reflected concerns also expressed at the planning commission’s June 19, 2012 meeting from residents of the nearby Forest Hills Cooperative.

At the Feb. 4 meeting, a half dozen people spoke during the public hearing, in opposition to the zoning – citing concerns about congestion and overcrowding. Andy LaBarre, a Washtenaw County commissioner in whose district the parcel sits, also addressed the councilmembers, telling them that he’d heard the concerns of many of the nearby residents. LaBarre offered to help find a way to put the land to a use that fits the desires of the residents.

In referring the zoning back to the planning commission, councilmembers indicated interest in hearing more detail on drainage issues, and the level of recreational services offered in that general area of the city, as well as information about public safety issues.

R3 zoning is consistent with the intended development of the site – to be called Summit Townhomes – for which the city’s planning commission recommended approval at its Jan. 3, 2013 meeting. The developer wants to build 24 attached residential units in four separate buildings, with each building between 80 to 160 feet in length. Each of the 24 units would have a floor area of about 1,300 square feet, and an attached one-car garage. The plan includes two surface parking areas on the east and west sides of the site, each with 12 spaces.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]