Rezoning Planned for Public Housing Sites

Three properties that provide public housing are recommended to be rezoned, following action at the May 6, 2014 meeting of the Ann Arbor planning commission. The sites are part of the Ann Arbor Housing Commission’s major initiative to upgrade the city’s public housing units by seeking private investors through low-income housing tax credits.

Rezoning is recommended for the following public housing sites, two of which are currently zoned as public land:

  • Baker Commons: Rezone public land to D2 (downtown interface). The 0.94-acre lot is located at 106 Packard Street, at the intersection with South Main, in Ward 5. It includes a 64-unit apartment building.
  • Green/Baxter Court Apartments: Rezone public land to R4A (multi-family dwelling district). The 2-acre site is located at 1701-1747 Green Road and contains 23 apartments in four buildings and a community center. It’s in Ward 2.
  • Maple Meadows: Currently zoned R1C (single-family dwelling district), the recommendation is to rezone it as R4B (multi-family dwelling district). The site is 3.4 acres at 800-890 South Maple Road and contains 29 apartments in five buildings and a community center. It’s located in Ward 5.

AAHC director Jennifer Hall explained that PL zoning doesn’t allow housing to be built on it. As AAHC seeks private funding to rehab its properties, it needs to ensure if a building burns down, for example, it could be rebuilt. In general that’s why the rezoning is being requested. It’s also being requested to align the zoning with the current uses of the property. She stressed that the highest priority properties to be rezoned are Baker Commons, Green/Baxter and Maple Meadows, because investors have already been found to renovate those sites.

For these three sites, commissioners also voted to waive the area plan requirements for the AAHC rezoning petitions, because no new construction is proposed and surveys of the improvements have been provided.

In addition, the following two AAHC sites were also on the May 6 agenda to be rezoned, but were postponed by planning commissioners, in part because of concerns raised by the public.

  • Mallett’s Creek Court: Requested rezoning of the east portion of this 2.3-acre parcel at 2670-2680 S. Main from public land to R2A (two-family dwelling district). There are three duplexes on the east side, which is in Ward 4. The west part of the site, which is vacant and in a floodway, would remain public land. The city is currently looking into the possibility of splitting the parcel and making the west section a part of Cranbrook Park.
  • 805-807 W. Washington: Requested rezoning from public land to R2A (two-family dwelling district). It’s a 0.18 acre-parcel in Ward 5 that contains one duplex, with a garage that’s used for AAHC facilities storage.

During public commentary, the Mallett’s Creek Court and West Washington properties received the most attention. About a dozen neighbors of the Mallett’s Creek Court property spoke about concerns that the vacant part of the parcel would be sold or developed. Hall assured them that there’s no intent to sell, and in fact federal regulations that govern pubic housing prevent such a sale. She said AAHC hadn’t been aware that the vacant land was part of the parcel until they started the rezoning process.

Neighbors of the West Washington property are concerned about the amount of impervious surface on that site, and chronic flooding problems in that area.

AAHC and city staff will continue to evaluate these properties, which will likely return to the planning commission for consideration at a later date.

For additional background on the AAHC process of renovating its properties, see Chronicle coverage: “Public Housing Conversion Takes Next Step.”

The planning commission’s rezoning recommendations will be forwarded to city council for consideration.

This brief was filed from the boardroom of the county administration building at 220 N. Main St., where the planning commission held its May 6 meeting. A more detailed report will follow: [link]