Planning Group Weighs Master Plan Changes

Items related to the city’s master plan were on the May 21, 2013 agenda for the Ann Arbor planning commission.

A public hearing was held during the meeting to get input on any changes that residents might want to see in the city’s master plan. Such a review is required by the planning commission’s bylaws to be done each May. The hearing drew six speakers on a range of topics, including development in Lowertown, a park in downtown Ann Arbor, and adequate sidewalks cleared of vegetation so that kids can walk to school safely.

By way of background, there are seven documents that constitute the city’s master plan: (1) sustainability framework – adopted in 2013; (2) parks and recreation open space (PROS) plan – adopted in 2011; (3) land use element – adopted in 2009; (4) downtown plan – adopted in 2009; (5) transportation plan update – adopted in 2009; (6) non-motorized transportation plan – adopted in 2007; and (7) natural features master plan – adopted in 2004.

There is also a list of resource documents that are used to support the master plan. [.pdf of resource document list] The most recent addition to this list was made by the planning commission at its March 5, 2013 meeting, when commissioners added the Connecting William Street report, which had been developed by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. Commissioners spent a fair amount of time discussing why the Calthorpe report isn’t included on the list. That was a question raised during the public hearing by former planning commissioner Ethel “Eppie” Potts. The commission appeared to reach consensus that it would be worth reviewing the entire list of resource documents.

Planning staff recommended postponing action on the master plan review, pending discussion of work plan priorities for staff and the commission, as well as to give the commission additional time to consider comments heard during the public hearing. Commissioners voted to postpone action until their June 18 meeting.

Also on May 21, the commission held a public hearing to get input on the South State Street Corridor plan, as a possible addition to the city’s master plan. Commissioners and staff have been working on this project for more than two years. No one spoke during the hearing.

After some discussion, planning commissioners voted to add the South State Street Corridor plan to the city’s master plan, as an amendment to the plan’s land use element. In a separate vote, they recommended that city council also adopt the plan into the master plan’s land use element.

This brief was filed from the second-floor council chambers at city hall, 301 N. Main. A more detailed report will follow: [link]