Main Street BIZ Expansion Gets Council OK

An expansion of the geographic area of the Main Street Business Improvement Zone in downtown Ann Arbor has received approval from the city council. The business improvement zone was established in 2010 by a vote of property owners in the zone to provide a mechanism for taxing themselves to pay for items like sidewalk snow removal, sidewalk sweeping and landscaping. [For the state enabling legislation for a BIZ, see Public Act 120 of 1961]

The council’s action approving the expanded area came at its April 7, 2014 meeting, after a public hearing, during which four property owners in the proposed BIZ area – including BIZ board chair Ed Shaffran – spoke in favor of the council allowing property owners to vote on the issue. Shaffran also fielded questions from councilmembers later in the meeting.

While the council must give its approval of the plan, the expansion is contingent on a vote among the owners of more than 60 different parcels in the area, which has to be set for no later than 49 days after the date of the council’s resolution. The total assessment generated by all properties for the first year of the 10-year assessment would be $273,870. To succeed, the vote needs a 60% majority in the combined new BIZ area.

The current geographic area of the Main Street BIZ extends north-to-south from William to Huron on both sides of Main Street, extending to the mid-block alleys. The expansion would extend the area westward by a half block from the alley to Ashley Street. The expansion would also extend the area eastward by a half block along the whole north-south dimension; and between William and Liberty, the zone would expand westward an additional block – to Fourth Avenue.

Main Street BIZ geographic area and expansion.

Main Street BIZ geographic area and expansion. (Map by The Chronicle from the BIZ plan using Washtenaw County and city of Ann Arbor GIS services mapping tools.)

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron.