Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (May 15, 2012): At 3.5 hours, the most recent meeting of the Ann Arbor planning commission reflected a trend that city staff say will likely continue: An uptick in projects coming through the city’s planning pipeline.
The city’s fiscal year ends June 30. Year to date, 10 zoning or planned unit development (PUD) applications have been received, compared to one in fiscal year 2011. Twenty-one site plans have been submitted this year, compared to 13 in FY 2011. And 494 zoning compliance reviews have been completed this year for building permits, up from 215 in FY 2011 – a 129% increase.
At the commission’s May 15 meeting, five projects were considered. The one drawing most interest from residents was a proposed expansion of Knight’s Market at the corner of Spring and Miller. The plan calls for an addition on the current market building, which has been run by the Knight family since 1952. Three parcels would be combined into one that would be rezoned as C1 (local business), allowing the Knights to turn one of two single-family homes next to the market into a bakery. The bakery wouldn’t have a retail space – it would be used to make products for the market and the family’s restaurants in Ann Arbor and Jackson.
Ten people spoke during a public hearing on the project, mostly residents of the neighborhood. They expressed support and gratitude for the Knights and their business, but raised concerns about increased truck traffic and “commercial creep.” Residents were also cautious about the future of the site, if ownership changes hands after the property is rezoned for commercial uses.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Sherry Knight Bedolla assured commissioners that there are no plans to sell to a developer – the family simply needs to meet demand for its baked goods, she said. The bakery would also be used to repackage food from the restaurant into ready-to-eat meals that would be sold in the market. At the planning staff’s request, commissioners ultimately voted to postpone action on the project to allow time for additional review.
Also postponed was action on the site plan for DTE Energy’s Buckler electrical substation at 984 Broadway near Canal Street. DTE hopes to build the substation in the utility company’s Ann Arbor service center to provide an increase in electrical power to the downtown area, due to increased demand for electricity. The project is expected to be back on the planning commission’s June 5 agenda. A companion project – a site plan for remediation of the nearby MichCon property on Broadway – was unanimously approved, assuming that a list of contingencies are met.
Two other projects were also unanimously approved: (1) an expansion of parking for the Wintermeyer office complex on South State; and (2) a temporary retail sales special exception use for Phantom Fireworks, to sell fireworks in the parking lot of Colonial Lanes at 1950 South Industrial Highway.