Stories indexed with the term ‘planning and development’

Fiat Site Plan Gets Council OK

A plan to build a new Fiat showroom next to the post office on West Stadium Boulevard received approval from the Ann Arbor city council at its Oct. 1, 2012 meeting. The property is owned by the Suburban Collection of Troy. The site plan was recommended to the council for approval by the planning commission at its Aug. 21, 2012 meeting.

The property had originally been developed in the late 1950s as a gas station, but underground tanks have been removed.  It had been purchased by the Naylor Chrysler dealership in the mid-1990s, and most recently was acquired by the Suburban Collection of Troy, which operates a Chrysler Jeep dealership across the street at 2060 W. Stadium. Suburban also owns local Cadillac … [Full Story]

Land Use, Transit Factor Into Sustainability

How do Ann Arbor’s land use policies affect where people live and work, and the way they get from one place to another? What is the city doing to support sustainable approaches?

Joe Grengs Ginny Trocchio

Joe Grengs, a University of Michigan associate professor of urban and regional planning, and Ginny Trocchio, who manages the city's greenbelt program, were among the speakers at a Feb. 9 sustainability forum.

Issues of land use and accessibility were the topic of a sustainability forum on Feb. 9, the second in a series that’s part of a broader city sustainability initiative. During the forum, city staff also unveiled a set of draft goals for Ann Arbor related to four general sustainability themes: Resource management; land use and access; climate and energy; and community.

Wendy Rampson, head of the city’s planning staff, told the audience that the 15 draft goals were extracted from more than 200 that had been identified in existing city planning documents. The hope is to reach consensus on these sustainability goals, then present them to the city council as possible amendments to the city’s master plan.

Speakers at the Feb. 9 forum included Joe Grengs, a University of Michigan associate professor of urban and regional planning; Susan Pollay, executive director of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority; Eli Cooper, the city’s transportation program manager and member of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board; Jeff Kahan of the city’s planning staff; Ginny Trocchio, who manages the city’s greenbelt program; and Evan Pratt of the city’s planning commission.

A Q&A followed presentations by the speakers and covered a wide range of topics, including thoughts on the proposed Fuller Road Station. The following day, Feb. 10, the city and University of Michigan announced plans to halt the initial phase of that controversial project – a large parking structure near the UM medical campus.

The topics of the series of forums reflect four general sustainability themes: Resource management; land use and access; climate and energy; and community. The first forum, held in January, focused on resource management, including water, solid waste, the urban forest and natural areas.

All forums are held at the downtown Ann Arbor District Library and are being videotaped by AADL staff. The videos will be posted on the library’s website. Additional background on the Ann Arbor sustainability initiative is on the city’s website. See also Chronicle coverage: “Building a Sustainable Ann Arbor,” and an update on the project given at the November 2011 park advisory commission meeting. [Full Story]

Heritage Row Vote Likely Delayed

On the published agenda for Monday’s June 7 council meeting are public hearings on two different site plans – Heritage Row and a planned project at Glacier Hills. Public hearings such as these are required to be published in a newspaper of general circulation one week before they take place.


From the June 3, 2010 edition of the Washtenaw Legal News, the published notice of the June 7, 2010 Glacier Hills and Heritage Row site plan public hearings. (Image links to wider view and higher resolution file.)

In a phone interview on Friday, city clerk Jackie Beaudry confirmed for The Chronicle that an email sent by the Ann Arbor city clerk’s office to the Detroit News – requesting publication of the notices for Sunday, May 30 – was not received by The News. Due to the Memorial Day holiday, the city clerk’s staff did not learn of the communication snafu until Tuesday. That was not in time to meet the publication requirement for the June 7 public hearings.

As a result, no vote is now expected on the site plans for those two projects at Monday’s June 7 city council meeting. The notice of public hearings for those projects, Beaudry said, was published in the June 3 edition of the Washtenaw Legal News. Those WLN notices in the June 3 edition still specify the site plan public hearings for June 7, but indications from inside city hall are that if when the hearings are opened on June  7, they’ll be left open and continued through the council’s June 21 meeting, when a vote will be taken on the site plans as well as the Heritage Row rezoning.

The zoning change for the Heritage Row project, which is considered separately from the site plan by the council and is given a separate public hearing, was properly noticed, Beaudry told The Chronicle. How can one of the public hearings receive proper notice, but the other one not, when they’re part of the same project? [Full Story]

Building a Sustainable Ann Arbor

About two dozen members of three Ann Arbor commissions gathered last week for a rare joint meeting, a two-hour, wide-ranging discussion focused on the issue of sustainability. Bonnie Bona, chair of the city’s planning commission, said the working session was meant to start a conversation, with the goal of moving the city toward a sustainable future.

David Stead, Jean Carlberg, Fulter Hong

From left: David Stead, Jean Carlberg, and Fulter Hong at an April 13 working session on sustainability. They are members of the environmental, planning and energy commissions, respectively. (Photos by the writer.)

The discussion touched on the conceptual as well as the concrete, with some commissioners urging the group to tackle practical considerations as well. The chairs of each commission – Bona, the energy commission’s Wayne Appleyard, and Steve Bean of the environmental commission – set the stage by talking about the roles of their appointed public bodies, and how sustainability might be incorporated into their work.

Specific ideas discussed during the session included financing energy improvements in households through a special self-assessment on property tax bills, and tapping expertise at the University of Michigan.

More than midway through the meeting they were joined by Terry Alexander, executive director of UM’s Office of Campus Sustainability. He described UM’s efforts at implementing sustainable practices on campus as well as creating a living/learning environment for students, teaching them what it means to be a “green citizen.”

Toward the end of the meeting, Bona noted that the issue extended far beyond the three commissions gathered around the table. Housing, parks and other areas need to be involved as well, she said, if they were truly to tackle the three elements of sustainability: environmental quality, social equity, and economic vitality. Bean said he and the other chairs would be meeting again and come up with some specific examples for what steps might be taken next. “You’ll be hearing from us,” he said. [Full Story]

Budget Round 1: Community Services

In the first of a series of meetings on the budget, the Ann Arbor city council on Monday heard from community services area administrator Jayne Miller, who gave a presentation on her part of the city budget, based on information councilmembers had requested at the council’s Dec. 5, 2009 budget retreat.

Mary Jo Callan Jayne Miller

Mary Jo Callan, left, head of the city/county community development office, and Jayne Miller, the city of Ann Arbor's community service area administrator.

As to possible measures that could affect the FY 2011 budget, which begins July 1, 2010, Miller focused on several areas: (i) reorganizing the housing commission; (ii) reducing the scope for planning projects and outsourcing planning review and/or collaborating with other municipalities for construction inspection, (iii) cutting human services funding, (iv) reducing maintenance for specific parks and changing the parks maintenance/improvements millage resolution, which specifies how the millage money is allocated.

Some possibilities that were mentioned – but described as unlikely to have an impact on the FY 2011 budget – included allowing a private vendor to operate Huron Hills Golf Course as a combination driving range (where the front nine holes are currently located), plus a 9-hole golf course.

Specific parks were also identified in Miller’s report that would be recommended for sale – if parkland sale were to be used as a strategy. However, that too, said Miller, would be unlikely to have a short-term impact for two reasons: the sale of parkland requires a voter referendum, and the market for land is currently uncertain, given the overall economic climate.

The presentation also served as a bit of a tutorial on which parts of the city’s operations Miller administers, in a job she’ll be leaving on Feb. 11. Sumedh Bahl, unit manager of the water treatment plant, was also on hand Monday night – he’ll be filling in for Miller on an interim basis. [Full Story]