Stories indexed with the term ‘purchase of development rights’

Two Scio Properties Added to Greenbelt

Acquisition of development rights for two properties in Scio Township has been approved by the Ann Arbor city council, using funds from the city’s open space and parkland preservation millage. The council’s action came at its Feb. 18, 2014 meeting.

The first is a 24-acre parcel just north of the Huron River in Scio Township. The city of Ann Arbor, through its greenbelt millage, will be contributing $25,200 to the total $84,000 cost of purchasing development rights, with the township contributing the difference. The deal was recommended by the Ann Arbor greenbelt advisory commission at its Jan. 2, 2014 meeting.

[Full Story]

Greenbelt, Park Commissions Strategize

Ann Arbor greenbelt advisory commission and park advisory commission’s land acquisition committee – joint meeting (Nov. 1, 2012): Two city advisory groups – for parks and the greenbelt – have a common link, in addition to their land-related focus: Both oversee programs funded by a 30-year millage that voters approved in 2003.

Ann Arbor greenbelt advisory commission, Ann Arbor park advisory commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Staff and members of the Ann Arbor greenbelt and park advisory commissions at a joint meeting on Nov. 1, 2012. From left: Colin Smith, Shannon Brines, Archer Christian, Peter Allen, Tim Doyle, Laura Rubin, Alan Jackson.  (Photos by the writer.)

Earlier this month, members from both commissions met in a joint session to get a financial update from staff and learn more about the roles and priorities of the greenbelt and parks.

The greenbelt program uses about two-thirds of the millage proceeds. By the end of 2012, about 4,200 acres will have been protected around the outskirts of Ann Arbor. When the program began, the expectation was that it would fund protection for between 3,500 to 4,500 over the life of the 30-year millage. But because the economic downturn has lowered the cost of land, the program has protected more land – primarily through the purchase of development rights – than originally anticipated. Land that previously was valued at about $16,000 per acre is now closer to $4,000, with the likelihood of even lower costs in the coming year.

The last joint meeting of these groups was held in June of 2011, but membership on the groups has changed over the last year and a half. The park advisory commission in particular has seen considerable turnover since then. Earlier this year PAC members Gwen Nystuen, David Barrett, Sam Offen and Doug Chapman left the commission, either because they were term-limited or did not seek re-appointment. New members are Ingrid Ault, Bob Galardi, Alan Jackson and Missy Stults. New to GAC this year is Archer Christian, replacing long-time member Mike Garfield, who was term-limited. Both Garfield and Christian are executives at the nonprofit Ecology Center.

The Nov. 1 discussion among commissioners was wide-ranging. Among the topics covered were the need to provide connections between existing parks, potential for recreational use of greenbelt-protected land, farming trends, and protections for both greenbelt property and parkland. For this report, the conversations are summarized and grouped thematically. The meeting began with a staff update – and that’s where this report begins, too. [Full Story]

County Pursues Major New Parks & Rec Deal

Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission meeting (Nov. 13, 2012): At their November meeting, county parks & recreation commissioners approved moving forward with a major project that could result in a new state recreation area in the southwest corner of Washtenaw County.

Trolz property, Manchester Township, Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Sign on the Trolz property in Manchester Township, which might become part of a new state recreation area in southwest Washtenaw County. (Photo by Russ Serbay.)

The proposal is to partner with the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources to acquire a total of 2,160 acres straddling the border of Jackson and Washtenaw counties – the Trolz property. The area includes an abandoned rail right-of-way that could become a multipurpose trail.

The county parks system would purchase about 461 acres of that total area – a parcel located in Manchester Township and appraised at $1.37 million. The commission authorized staff to conduct additional work on the potential deal, with a final proposal and request for approval in the coming months.

The commission also received an update on the proposed East County Recreation Center from Craig Borum, professor at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Borum presented two options for laying out the entire 38-acre Water Street redevelopment area in Ypsilanti, where the rec center would be located. He also reviewed two possible draft designs for the recreation building on a portion of the site.

The commission kept up its pace of land preservation efforts, often in partnership with other organizations. It gave final approval to acquire conservation easements on the 124-acre Drake property in Lodi Township, in partnership with the Ann Arbor greenbelt program. Final approvals were also given for easements on the 73-acre Hornback property in Salem Township, partnering with the greenbelt and Salem Township; and for the 213-acre Bailo property in Superior Township. In addition, the commission authorized preparation of a purchase offer for 65 acres in Superior Township – the Ford Road property – at a price of $500,000, contingent on completion of all due diligence and the commission’s final approval. When completed, WCPARC’s contribution to all these deals would total $900,224 to preserve 475 acres.

The nine-member commission will face some turnover in 2013. At the end of the meeting, commissioner Jimmie Maggard announced his intent to resign after 24 years of serving on WCPARC. Barbara Bergman, who serves on WCPARC because of her position as a county commissioner, did not seek re-election and will be leaving the county board at the end of 2012. The same is true for Janis Bobrin, who did not seek re-election as the county’s water resources commissioner. She’ll be replaced by Evan Pratt, who won the seat in the Nov. 6 election. Bergman expressed the hope that Bobrin would be appointed to a vacancy on WCPARC – those appointments are made by the county board. [Full Story]

Greenbelt Gets Equestrian Request

Ann Arbor greenbelt advisory commission meeting (Jan. 12, 2011): The owners of Cobblestone Farms in Webster Township – Jim and Darlyn Daratony – have applied to the greenbelt program for a parcel adjacent to their business.

Jim Daratony

Jim Daratony, owner of Cobblestone Farms in Webster Township, made a presentation at the Jan. 12 meeting of the Ann Arbor greenbelt advisory commission. To the right is Jennifer Merrick-Brooks, an equestrian trainer and coach. (Photos by the writer.)

It’s the first equestrian-related property to be considered for the greenbelt, so they came to commissioners to make their case for including it. The land is used for a sport called “eventing,” which includes a cross-country component. Jim Daratony said the eventing competitions that they’ve held so far on the property have drawn people from as far away as Texas – he stated that it’s having a positive economic impact on this area.

Commissioners also heard from John Satarino, one of the original advocates of the greenbelt program, who spoke during public commentary. He urged them to consider making more outright acquisitions of property, which could then be open to the public. Much of the land protected by the greenbelt is done through the purchase of development rights, with the land remaining private property.

In her staff update, Ginny Trocchio reported that in 2010, the greenbelt program had protected just over 1,000 acres of land, bringing the total of greenbelt land to nearly 3,000 acres. [Full Story]

Greenbelt Supports Ann Arbor Twp. Deals

Ann Arbor Greenbelt Advisory Commission meeting (March 10, 2010): After hearing from Ann Arbor Township supervisor Mike Moran, and meeting in closed session with Mary Fales of the city attorney’s office, commissioners passed a resolution of support for the acquisition of development rights on the Braun and Gould properties in Ann Arbor Township.

These deals have been in the works for more than two years. The city has binding purchase agreements with the owners based on appraisals taken when land values were higher. New appraisals, required to get funds from a federal program, came in with much lower values. That means fewer-than-expected federal funds will be available, and the city would be required to come up with the difference.

Saying that Ann Arbor Township was their partner, Moran urged commissioners to support the purchase of development rights. He called the Braun farm a “poster child” for the township’s land preservation movement, and said it would be a significant error to reject the deal simply because of the new appraisals.

Later in the meeting, commissioners also got an update on committee work being done to help support small farms in the greenbelt. [Full Story]