Stories indexed with the term ‘AAA Michigan’

City Council Expands North Main Task Force

Ann Arbor city council meeting (May 21, 2012) Part 1: Although the council’s meeting did not conclude until around 1:30 a.m., the late hour was not attributable to the relatively heavy agenda. It was due to the extensive deliberations on the fiscal year 2013 budget, which the council finally approved over dissent from two of its members. A breakdown of amendments to the budget is included in The Chronicle’s report filed from the meeting. Deliberations on those budget amendments are covered in the forthcoming Part 2 of this meeting report.

Left is Sandi Smith (Ward 1). Right is Sabra Briere (Ward 1). The two had co-sponsored a resolution establishing a task force to study the North Main Street and Huron River corridor.

From left: Councilmembers Sandi Smith (Ward 1) and Sabra Briere (Ward 1). The two had co-sponsored a resolution establishing a task force to study the North Main Street and Huron River corridor. (Photos by the writer.)

In addition to the budget, the council efficiently dispatched with a fairly packed agenda of regular items, which are covered in this part of the meeting report. The item generating the most discussion was a follow-up to action taken at the council’s previous meeting on May 7, to establish a task force to study the North Main Street and Huron River corridor.

That resolution had provided for nine task force members representing different constituencies. At the May 21 meeting, a resolution was brought forward to add three members. A debate unfolded about whether to add a fourth member – from the Ann Arbor public art commission – to the mix. Ultimately that addition was approved narrowly on a 6-5 vote on the 11-member council.

While the North Main task force is meant to develop a vision for future land use in the corridor, the council took action on several current land use items too. Winning easy approval were a site plan for Allen Creek Preschool on Miller Avenue, and a rezoning and site plan for Michigan AAA on South Main Street. The council also quickly approved six routine rezoning requests associated with annexation from a township into the city of Ann Arbor.  And councilmembers gave initial approval to revisions of the planned unit development regulations for a Shell service station on Ann Arbor-Saline and West Eisenhower Parkway.

Associated with these land use items were a total of 10 separate public hearings. However, no one addressed the council during any of those hearings.

The city’s park system made it onto the agenda in a few different ways. First, a consent agenda item was pulled out for separate consideration to highlight the fact that renovations to South University Park were being funded with a $50,000 gift that had been made by a couple – Leslie and Michael Morris – who previously lived next to the park. The council also approved the lease of a 40-space parking lot near Argo Canoe liveries to meet additional demand for river trips that has been generated by construction of the Argo Cascades bypass around the dam.

Related to open space outside the city were the reappointments of two members of the greenbelt advisory commission – Peter Allen and Catherine Riseng. The commission overseas a portion of the city’s open space and parkland preservation millage.

Financial issues considered by the council included initial approval to increase water, sewer and stormwater rates that will together generate an additional $1.7 million in annual revenue. The council also approved a tax abatement for Sakti3, a battery technology company in Ann Arbor that is looking to expand its operation here.

Other items on the agenda included receipt of a federal grant to develop a strategy for improved energy efficiency in rental housing, as well as a grant administered for laptop computers to be used as electronic pollbooks. The computers are used for election record-keeping, not for casting ballots. The council also gave initial approval to an ordinance revision that relieves homeowners of responsibility for maintaining sidewalks adjacent to their property for the duration of the sidewalk-repair millage, which voters approved in November 2011. [Full Story]

AAA Site Plan, Rezoning OK’d by City Council

At its May 21, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council gave final approval to a rezoning request from AAA Michigan and approved the site plans for two separate parcels that are part of the same project on South Main Street. The council had given initial approval to the rezoning request at its May 7 meeting.

The rezoning request was to change half of a parcel located at 1200 S. Main to the P (parking) zoning designation.

The rezoning to P (parking) is part of a two-parcel site plan proposal – for which the city planning commission provided a positive recommendation at its March 6, 2012 meeting. At that meeting, the commission took two votes on the 1200 S. Main parcel – … [Full Story]

Planning Action: Cars, Noodles, Donuts & Gas

Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (March 6, 2012): Site plans for two food chains – a Tim Hortons at State and Ellsworth, and Noodles & Co. on West Stadium Boulevard, south of Liberty – were recommended for approval at the most recent planning commission meeting.

Former Szechwan West building

A car pulls into West Stadium Boulevard from a driveway next to the former Sze-Chuan West restaurant. The Ann Arbor planning commission recommended approval of a proposal to tear down the structure and build a Noodles & Co. restaurant there. (Photos by the writer.)

Much of the discussion about the Tim Hortons site focused on a proposed roundabout at that intersection. Though the coffee and donut shop will likely be built by late summer – about a year before the roundabout is expected to be in place – a spokesman for the company said they’ll be designing the site with the roundabout in mind.

Commissioners also recommended approval of a new AAA branch on South Main, across from Michigan Stadium. The plan calls for rezoning a portion of the site to accommodate more parking than the current office zoning would allow – a total of 35 spaces. That’s a reduction from the amount of parking currently on the site, which was approved in the mid-1970s, but it no longer conforms with existing zoning.

Commissioners Bonnie Bona, Erica Briggs and Kirk Westphal expressed concerns about rezoning an area along Main Street for parking. They also wondered whether 35 spaces were necessary, especially when there are alternative parking options – at a park-and-ride at Pioneer High, and in the nearby neighborhood. Briggs noted that it ran counter to the city’s efforts to encourage alternative transportation. Those three commissioners voted against the rezoning, but the resolution passed on a 6-3 vote. It will still require city council approval.

Also at the March 6 meeting, commissioners postponed action on a request from owners of the Shell service station at the northeast corner of Ann Arbor-Saline and West Eisenhower Parkway. Owners of the station hope to build additions onto the existing 1,000-square-foot convenience store, but planning staff recommended postponement in order to gather additional information and analysis about the plan. [Full Story]

AAA Project Gets Planning Group OK

A site plan and rezoning for two Main Street parcels owned by the Automobile Club of Michigan – where an AAA branch is currently located – were recommended for approval by the Ann Arbor planning commission at its March 6, 2012 meeting.

The requests relate to 1100 and 1200 S. Main, across from Michigan Stadium. An AAA branch built in the 1950s is located there. The owner wants to build a new branch on a different part of the site, tear down the existing building, and reconfigure parking spaces.

The two parcels are part of a 1.5-acre site containing four parcels owned by AAA and all zoned O (office). Located on the 1200 S. Main parcel is the current one-story branch building with … [Full Story]

Lack of Quorum Stymies Planning Meeting

Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (Feb. 23, 2012): The planning commission did not achieve a quorum of members on Thursday evening and therefore could not conduct its full meeting.

Ann Arbor planning commissioners

Ann Arbor planning commissioners and staff talk to high school students in city council chambers on Feb. 23. From left: Wendy Woods, Bonnie Bona, city planner Alexis DiLeo, and Kirk Westphal. (Photos by the writer.)

Five of the nine commissioners are needed for a quorum to conduct business, and only four attended. In addition to those four, about 10 people showed up for the two main action items on the agenda, and several high school students were attending as part of a class assignment.

After waiting about 30 minutes, vice chair Kirk Westphal and Wendy Rampson, head of the city’s planning staff, conferred and decided to hear public commentary. One person spoke. John Chamberlain, an attorney representing the Automobile Club of Michigan, came to the podium only to say that he and his team would return for the commission’s next meeting, on March 6.

The club wants to tear down its existing AAA branch near Michigan Stadium and build a new one, and was requesting approval for a site plan. The other main action item on Thursday’s agenda was site plan approval to build a new Noodles restaurant on West Stadium Boulevard, at the location of the former Sze-Chuan West. Both projects will be considered at the planning commission’s March 6 meeting. [Full Story]