Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (Aug. 19, 2014): Action taken by planning commissioners at its mid-August meeting will allow two projects to move forward: a new “modern lifestyle health spa” on West Liberty; and a new location for the Community Music School of Ann Arbor.
Both projects required approval of a special exception use from the commission, because the zoning doesn’t allow those uses without it.
It was the health spa/fitness center proposal that drew the most scrutiny from commissioners. John and Jackie Farah want to convert part of an existing office building at 3100 W. Liberty into a facility that would provide personalized training and guidance to help people develop healthier lifestyles. Jackie Farah stressed that the focus is on wellness, not on athletic fitness. The center would be in the same complex as John Farah’s dental practice.
Six people spoke during a public hearing on this project, including the Farahs as well as nearby residents. Concerns from neighbors included the disturbances that additional use of this site would have on their properties. Also speaking against the project was Brian Eisner, owner of the nearby Liberty Athletic Club, who expressed concern about increased traffic on West Liberty. The Farahs stressed that their effort would not increase traffic or negatively impact the residential neighbors.
During deliberations, commissioners considered putting limits on the hours of operation or restricting use to appointments only, but ultimately rejected those constraints. However, they did amend the special exception use to limit the amount of square footage that could be used for fitness center activities – to 9,000 square feet. It does not require additional city council approval.
The other special exception use was granted to the Community Music School of Ann Arbor, allowing it to operate at 1289 Jewett Ave., between South Industrial and Packard. The music school will share the building of Clonlara School, a private K-12 educational institution.
Commissioners also recommended the annexation and zoning of 2115 Victoria Circle, a half-acre vacant site west of Newport and north of M-14. If approved by the city council, the property would be annexed from Ann Arbor Township and zoned R1A (single family dwelling).