Latest Public Housing Project Postponed

Another public housing property is being overhauled, but action on rezoning and a site plan was postponed at the Ann Arbor planning commission’s June 3, 2014 meeting.

Planning commissioners were asked to recommend approval of rezoning a 4.8-acre site at 701 N. Maple Road from R1C (single-family dwelling district) to R4B (multi-family dwelling district). Commissioners were also asked to recommend a site plan and development agreement for the project – part of a major renovation effort by the Ann Arbor housing commission.

The plan calls for demolishing 20 existing single-family homes – the public housing complex known as North Maple Estates – and constructing an eight-building, 42-unit apartment complex with a total of 138 bedrooms. The project would include a playground, community building and 73 parking spaces. According to a staff memo, the buildings would be located along a T-shaped driveway that connects to North Maple Road and Dexter Avenue. The drive extends northward toward Vine Court but does not connect with that street. There will be a new connection to Dexter Avenue through the remaining, undeveloped length of Seybold Drive. [.pdf of staff memo]

Ann Arbor housing commission, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Rendering of proposed Ann Arbor housing commission project at 701 N. Maple.

Ann Arbor housing commission, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Proposed layout of the Ann Arbor housing commission’s development on North Maple.

The project also requires the city to vacate a portion of the right-of-way for Seybold Drive. The surrounding land is owned by the housing commission, so if the right-of-way vacation is approved, the land would become part of the housing commission property.

A resolution recommending action on the Seybold Drive issue was also postponed by commissioners on June 3. Postponement on that specific action was needed so that the request to vacate a portion of Seybold Drive’s right-of-way can be given proper public notice, according to planning staff. In general, the postponement on the North Maple Estates reconstruction was needed to allow time to address several outstanding issues related to the project, and to draft a development agreement.

During the project’s public hearing, four neighbors voiced a variety of concerns about the proposal, including traffic related to the new curbcut on Dexter Avenue, increased density, and security. One resident contended that current residents of North Maple Estates hadn’t been informed about this meeting, and he wanted to know what legal measures could be taken to oppose this project.

In addition, three representatives of the housing commission and project team – including AAHC executive director Jennifer Hall – spoke during the hearing, and were on hand to answer questions. Hall also offered to meet with neighbors.

Before the vote to postpone, discussion lasted about 35 minutes. Most of the commissioners’ questions related to issues that were raised during the public hearing.

At the start of the meeting, planning commissioner Wendy Woods announced that her husband, Ronald Woods, served on the housing commission board. She said she personally did not benefit from the project, but would be willing to recuse herself if any planning commissioners objected. No one did.

The reconstruction of North Maple Estates is part of an ongoing effort by the housing commission to upgrade the city’s housing stock for low-income residents. At the planning commission’s May 6, 2014 meeting, Hall had made a presentation about the major initiative, which includes seeking private investors through low-income housing tax credits.

At that May 6 meeting, planning commissioners recommended rezoning for three AAHC properties: (1) Baker Commons, at the southeast corner of Main and Packard, from public land to D2 (downtown interface); (2) Green/Baxter Court Apartments, at the northwest corner of Green and Baxter roads, from public land to R4A (multi-family dwelling district); and (3) Maple Meadows at 800-890 S. Maple, from R1C (single-family dwelling district) to R4B (multi-family dwelling district). The rezoning for those sites was subsequently given initial approval by city council at its meeting on June 2, with a final vote expected later this month.

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