Zoning for property at 2081 E. Ellsworth Road – where the Summit Townhomes project is proposed – was back on the Ann Arbor planning commission’s agenda for another look, following a city council directive to reconsider zoning for the residential project. At their Feb. 21, 2013 meeting, planning commissioners voted again to recommend that the site be zoned R3 (townhouse district) – the same zoning they had previously recommended at their Nov. 20, 2012 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. To do this, the property needs to be zoned as R3.
The project has been working its way through the city’s approval process for several months. The site plan had been postponed by commissioners in June of 2012 and again on Nov. 20, 2012, but was ultimately recommended for approval at the commission’s meeting on Jan. 3, 2013.
Before recommending the site plan, planning commissioners had previously recommended approval of annexation and zoning of the site in 2012. At their June 19 meeting, commissioners had approved annexing the 2.95-acre site, just east of Stone School Road, from Pittsfield Township into the city of Ann Arbor. The annexation was subsequently authorized by the city council. And at the commission’s Nov. 20 meeting, the R3 zoning for the property had been recommended for approval.
The zoning item appeared on the city council’s Jan. 7, 2013 agenda, when it received initial approval. However, at its Feb. 4, 2013 meeting, the council heard from about a half dozen people who spoke during the public hearing, in opposition to the zoning – citing concerns about congestion and overcrowding. So councilmembers voted unanimously to refer the zoning issue back to planning commissioners for another look. The council 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.
On Feb. 21, planning staff reviewed two other zoning options that would fit with the city’s master plan for that area, but even options with lower density – for single-family homes – would result in more driveways accessing Ellsworth, causing more traffic concerns. Nor would stormwater management be improved with the other options.
Three people spoke during a public hearing on the zoning reconsideration, including two residents who live at the nearby Forest Hills Cooperative. They expressed concern about broader issues with the area – including crime and recreational facilities – as well as the specific proposed zoning and project for that site. Planning manager Wendy Rampson indicated that based on the council’s discussion, city administrator Steve Powers is asking the city’s parks and police staff to look into concerns raised about that area.
This brief was filed from the second-floor council chambers at city hall, 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]