Stories indexed with the term ‘Belle Tire’

Planning Group Gives Advice to Council, UM

Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (March 18, 2014): The planning commission has weighed in with advice on the use of two publicly owned sites: the city-owned Library Lane in downtown Ann Arbor, and the former Edwards Brothers property on South State that’s being bought by the University of Michigan.

Wendy Woods, Jeremy Peters, Paras Parekh, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

From left: Ann Arbor planning commissioners Wendy Woods, Jeremy Peters and Paras Parekh. (Photos by the writer.)

One day after the Ann Arbor city council took action related to the Library Lane site, planning commissioners made recommendations to the council about how to develop that South Fifth Avenue property. The council’s action on March 17 included asking the city administrator to hire a brokerage service to sell development rights to the Library Lane surface, on top of an underground parking structure. The council also voted, after a long debate, to designate part of the surface for an urban public park.

On March 18, the commission’s advice focused on conditions for developing the site that would garner economic benefits to the city, such as a mixed-use development that generates foot traffic, with an entry plaza or open space and a design that “creates an iconic addition to the skyline.” The recommendations drew on material in several existing documents, including the Connecting William Street report that was completed by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority about a year ago.

After the vote, Sabra Briere – who serves on both the planning commission and the city council – noted that many members of council don’t believe that the Connecting William Street project was successful in its public outreach. She also said that many councilmembers “do not believe that maximizing density, scale and mass of a building on that site is in the public interest.” Briere said she hadn’t raised these issues during the commission’s deliberations because she didn’t want anyone to feel that she was trying to tell the planning commission what to do.

In separate action on March 18, commissioners passed a resolution with recommendations on uses for the Edwards Brothers site on South State Street, which the University of Michigan is acquiring. The intent is to encourage representatives from the city and UM to discuss their mutual interests in that area – weighing the university’s need to expand its facilities against the city’s interest in strengthening its tax base. Issues include the possible private development of the section that fronts South State, impact on the park-and-ride lot in that area, and the extension of Oakbrook Drive from South State to South Main, through UM property. The city council is expected to consider the same resolution at its April 7 meeting.

Further south on the State Street corridor, at the intersection with Eisenhower Parkway, a proposal to renovate the Shell station, tear down the car wash, and add a drive-thru restaurant was recommended for approval by the commission on March 18. The existing convenience store and gas station would remain open during construction. The specific drive-thru restaurant to be located there is still being negotiated, according to the owner.

Some of the discussion on this project related to upcoming ordinance revisions that the commission will consider on April 1 regulating drive-thru restaurants.

Also recommended for approval on March 18 were an expansion to an office on Collingwood near West Stadium Boulevard, and an easement related to a new Belle Tire on West Ellsworth. [Full Story]

Belle Tire Easement Moves to Council

An easement related to a new Belle Tire at 590 W. Ellsworth received a recommendation for approval at the Ann Arbor planning commission’s March 18, 2014 meeting.

Belle Tire, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Aerial view of a proposed Belle Tire site.

The commission had recommended site plan approval at its Aug. 20, 2013 meeting, and the project subsequently received city council approval on Oct. 7, 2013. The site is located in Ward 4.

A 50-foot-wide right-of-way easement on the front this site was recorded by the city as part of a previously approved land division for this parcel. … [Full Story]

Belle Tire on Ellsworth Gets Council OK

The site plan for a new Belle Tire, to be located at 590 W. Ellsworth – just east of the intersection with South State Street – has received approval from the Ann Arbor city council.

Belle Tire, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Aerial view of a proposed Belle Tire site.

The planning commission had recommended approval of the site plan at its Aug. 20, 2013 meeting. The site is located at 590 W. Ellsworth.

The council’s action was taken at its Oct. 7, 2013 meeting.

The 1-acre site – currently vacant – is on the north side of Ellsworth, adjacent … [Full Story]

Oct. 7, 2013 Ann Arbor Council: Final

At least two topics on the council’s Oct. 7 agenda could offer potential points of friction: (1) leftover controversy from the confirmation of Al McWilliams to the board of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority at the council’s previous meeting on Sept. 16; and (2) adoption of an update to the city’s solid waste plan.

New sign on door to Ann Arbor city council chamber

The sign on the door to the Ann Arbor city council chamber, installed in the summer of 2013, includes Braille.

A resolution added to the agenda on Friday, Oct. 4 would, if approved, result in the waiver of attorney-client privilege with respect to a specific advice memo that has already been written by the city attorney’s office on the McWilliams appointment.

The memo responds to questions that were raised about the procedure used to appoint McWilliams to the DDA board. Mayor John Hieftje had asked the council to vote on McWilliams’ appointment after saying at a previous meeting that he was withdrawing the nomination. Under the council’s rules, an 8-vote majority is required for confirmation of an appointment when the nomination is made at the same meeting when the confirmation vote is taken. McWilliams was confirmed on a 6-5 vote.

It’s also possible that a motion could be put forward to reconsider McWilliams’ confirmation, in order to eliminate the procedural controversy. However, by the end of the weekend before the meeting, no such item had been added to the agenda.

The council will also be asked to adopt an update to its solid waste plan. [Waste Less: City of Ann Arbor Solid Waste Resource Plan] [Appendices to Waste Less] The update proposes a number of initiatives, including goals for increased recycling/diversion rates – both generally and for apartment buildings in particular. A pilot program would add all plate scrapings to the list of materials that can be placed in the brown carts used to collect compostable matter.

And if that pilot program is successful, the plan calls for exploring the possibility of reducing the frequency of curbside pickup – from the current weekly regime to a less frequent schedule. Also included in the draft plan is a proposal to relocate and upgrade the drop-off station at Platt and Ellsworth. The implementation of a fee for single-use bags at retail outlets is also part of the plan. [Previous Chronicle coverage: "Waste as Resource: Ann Arbor's Five-Year Plan."]

The solid waste plan update could face opposition from some councilmembers who don’t think it would be feasible or desirable to reduce the frequency of curbside trash pickup to once every two weeks.

The council will be asked to give initial consideration to a new definition of a sidewalk, covering so-called cross-lot walkways. Such walkways aren’t really on the “side” of anything. They connect a street to a park or school, or two parallel streets. The item had been up for final consideration at the council’s July 1, 2013 meeting, but it was postponed until Oct. 7.

In the meantime, the city’s approach to the cross-lot walkways has changed. Currently if an existing walkway meets the definition of a “sidewalk,” then the city bears responsibility for its repair for the duration of the sidewalk repair millage. All other things being equal, the adjacent property owner would be responsible for snow removal in the winter. The new approach, to be considered on Oct. 7, would allow the cross-lot walkways to qualify as sidewalks under the city’s ordinance, but not trigger a winter maintenance requirement for adjacent property owners. This fresh look would mean that any action taken on Oct. 7 would be considered only an initial approval of the ordinance change.

Land use is on the agenda in the form of two developments and one annexation.

Returning to the council’s agenda is the planned unit development (PUD) zoning for the Shell/Tim Hortons at the northeast corner of Ann Arbor-Saline Road and Eisenhower Parkway. The proposal for the 1.44-acre site would allow for a drive-thru restaurant within the existing convenience store, where a Tim Hortons is already located. The project includes constructing a 109-square-foot drive-thru window addition and access driveway on the north side of the building.

The council had given initial approval for changes to the project’s PUD supplemental regulations at its Sept. 3, 2013 meeting. That’s when Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) objected to including the drive-thru as a public benefit in the regulations: “To say that somebody now doesn’t have to spend the 10 extra calories between getting out of their car to get their salt-sugar-fat fix?! I don’t see that as a public benefit and I don’t want us to list that as some big thing that we’re modifying our zoning for in our ordinance.” On that occasion, the council modified the PUD regulations to accommodate his objection. The final approval of the PUD zoning as well as the site plan is on the council’s Oct. 7 agenda.

Councilmembers will also be asked to approve a site plan for Belle Tire on the north side of Ellsworth, adjacent to and east of a different Tim Hortons – one that’s located near the intersection with South State. The currently vacant 1-acre site will become a one-story, 9,735-square-foot auto service facility with 49 parking spaces, including 10 spaces located in service bays.

The council will also be asked to vote on a standard annexation from Ann Arbor Township to the city of Ann Arbor – a 0.39-acre site at 2640 Miller Ave.

Also on the Oct. 7 agenda is an item to approve a change to fees associated with liquor licenses. Some fees are being eliminated – those related to licenses for which the state of Michigan doesn’t require local review.

Other Oct. 7 agenda highlights include an allocation for more traffic calming studies and a resolution that would direct the city administrator to apply for a Rockefeller Foundation grant to make Ann Arbor one of 100 Resilient Cities.

More details on other meeting agenda items are available on the city’s Legistar system. Readers can also follow the live meeting proceedings on Channel 16, streamed online by Community Television Network. The Chronicle will be filing live updates from city council chambers during the meeting, published in this article “below the fold.” The meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. [Full Story]

Council Gets Advice on Y Lot Development

Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (Aug. 20, 2013): As the city council considers selling the former Y site at 350 S. Fifth, planning commissioners have outlined the kind of development they’d like to see at that location.

Diane Giannola, Bonnie Bona

Ann Arbor planning commissioners Diane Giannola and Bonnie Bona drafted a resolution with recommendations to the city council regarding development of the former Y lot, which is owned by the city. (Photos by the writer.)

The commission voted unanimously to recommend that the council, if it decides to proceed with a sale, should use a request for qualifications (RFQ) and request for proposals (RFP) process.

The planning commission is also recommending that the council impose a set of conditions for future development. The list includes mixed-use development that encourages foot traffic and active first-floor uses, an entry plaza or open space, and mandatory compliance with the city’s design guidelines.

The site was one of five parcels that was the focus of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s Connecting William Street project. Much of the Aug. 20 discussion centered on the use of CWS as a framework for the resolution.

Sabra Briere, who serves as the city council’s representative to the planning commission, suggested removing entirely references to the CWS project. The council never adopted the CWS report or took any action to implement the CWS recommendations, she noted. Briere felt that leaving those references to CWS in the commission’s resolution might make some councilmembers more resistant to it.

Wendy Woods, a former councilmember, countered that “our role is not to give pablum to council.” The commission’s role is to give advice as a body, regardless of how it might be received by the council, Woods said. She also pointed out that it’s not necessarily Briere’s role to advocate for positions taken by the commission. “The planning commission is its own advocate and we stand on our own,” Woods said.

Bonnie Bona and Diane Giannola, who drafted the resolution, pointed to the amount of public input that had been solicited during the CWS process, and felt that it was more powerful for the commission’s recommendations to be supported by that input. Giannola didn’t want to get into the politics of guessing what the council might support, but offered to extract references to CWS from the two resolved clauses. That compromise was acceptable to Briere and the other commissioners. [.pdf of amended Y lot resolution]

During the discussion, Briere also reported that the broker hired by the city to handle a possible sale has been meeting with councilmembers to talk about the Y lot. The broker is likely to suggest putting as few stipulations on the property as possible, she said, because he believes that such stipulations will lower the purchase price. That’s not necessarily what all councilmembers believe, she noted, but it’s what they’re being told.

The commission’s resolution will be forwarded to the city council as an item of communication, and will possibly appear on the agenda as soon as Sept. 3.

In other action, commissioners recommended approval of a two-story addition that more than doubles the size of the Honda vehicle testing facility on Ann Arbor’s south side. The existing 19,357-square-foot building, built in 1975, is located at 3947 Research Park Drive on a 2.72-acre site. During a public hearing on the project, a representative of American Honda Motor Co. reported that the expansion will include a state-of-the-art environmental testing chamber, to help Honda develop vehicles with cleaner fuel emissions. The $4.3 million project is expected to increase the number of employees who work at the site from 6 to 10.

Commissioners also recommended approval of (1) the site plan for a proposed Belle Tire at 590 W. Ellsworth – just east of the intersection with South State Street, and (2) an annexation and zoning request for 2640 Miller Road, on the city’s northwest side. [Full Story]

Belle Tire on Ellsworth Gets Planning OK

The site plan for a proposed Belle Tire at 590 W. Ellsworth – just east of the intersection with South State Street – received a recommendation of approval from Ann Arbor planning commissioners at their Aug. 20, 2013 meeting. No one spoke at a public hearing on the project.

Belle Tire, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Aerial view of a proposed Belle Tire site.

The 1-acre site – currently vacant – is on the north side of Ellsworth, adjacent to and east of a new Tim Hortons. A restaurant building formerly located on the property was demolished.

The proposal calls … [Full Story]