Stories indexed with the term ‘Summit Townhomes’

City Council Sets Up for 413 E. Huron

Ann Arbor city council meeting (May 6, 2013 – May 6 session): Although the council did not take final action on many agenda items, it did complete eight public hearings and postponed some significant questions – before deciding to recess the meeting for a week. When the same meeting resumes on May 13, the first item to be confronted by the council is the site plan approval for the 413 E. Huron apartment project.

Fourth Avenue between Huron and Washington streets.

Recess of the Ann Arbor city council’s May 6 meeting around 11:30 p.m.  – after eight public hearings and action on a few business items – paved the way for the council to resume the same meeting on May 13, with the 413 E. Huron project as the first item to be considered at that time. This photo shows Fourth Avenue between Huron and Washington streets, which will be repaired in the summer of 2013 as the result of a contract approved at the council’s May 6 session. (Photos by the writer.)

The council decided to suspend the proceedings around 11:30 p.m. – a different strategy than the one taken at the council’s April 15 meeting. On that occasion, councilmembers let the meeting continue until about 3 a.m. before deciding to end the session, postponing all remaining items until the next regular meeting on May 6.

At its May 6 meeting, the council voted unanimously to postpone until Sept. 3 one of the most controversial items on the agenda – revisions to the ordinance governing the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. The most significant revision would clarify language from the original 1982 ordinance, which caps tax increment finance (TIF) revenue to the DDA. The clarifications would not allow for the kind of interpretation the DDA has given the ordinance for the last two years, which has resulted in no return of excess TIF to jurisdictions that have their taxes captured by the DDA.

Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) led off communications time early in the meeting by describing some further changes he was prepared to make to the DDA ordinance – which would earmark money to support affordable housing. During the public hearing on the ordinance changes, the council heard from speakers on both sides, including five members of the DDA board. A highlight was the apparent initial indication of a slightly moderated position by some opponents of the ordinance changes. The council’s relatively brief deliberations on postponement revealed only grudging support from some councilmembers for putting off the vote for four months. Margie Teall (Ward 4) and Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) made clear they did not support the proposed changes to the ordinance.

The council also postponed action on a revision to the city’s sign ordinance, which would allow only certain types of digital signs. The ordinance amendments would cap the total number of billboards in the city at 28 and allow them to remain in place as non-conforming signs. It would not allow for retrofitting any existing billboards with digital technology. The council has already given the ordinance initial approval, and will take up the issue again on June 17.

Another item postponed by the council was consideration of a video privacy ordinance, which has not yet been given initial approval. That will come back to the council’s May 20 meeting.

Receiving approval from the council was the site plan for Summit Townhomes, located on Ellsworth Road. The project has been working through the city’s review and approval process for more than a year.

The downtown section of Fourth Avenue was somewhat of a geographic highlight for the May 6 meeting. The council approved a $741,900 contract with E.T. MacKenzie Co. to make improvements on Fourth Avenue between Huron and Liberty streets this summer. And the council formally withdrew its objection to renewal of the liquor license for The Arena, a bar located at Washington and Fourth. The Arena finally paid back taxes, which led to the council’s vote – but not without complaint from some councilmembers.

Another highlight of the meeting was the general topic of appointments to city boards and commissions. A brief discussion of how appointments work was prompted by the observation during public commentary that none of the appointments are current for members of the downtown citizens advisory council. The city council put off voting to confirm Stephanie Buttrey’s appointment to the greenbelt advisory commission. And not reached on the agenda were nominations to replace Jesse Bernstein on the board of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority and Eric Mahler on the city planning commission – with Susan Baskett and Paras Parekh, respectively. [Full Story]

Summit Townhomes Project Gets Final OK

The necessary approvals for the Summit Townhomes project – zoning and site plan – have now been given final approval by the Ann Arbor city council. The approval of the site plan came at the council’s May 6, 2013 meeting. Approval of the new R3 (townhouse) zoning had come at the council’s April 15, 2013 meeting.

Both the site plan and the new zoning for the parcel, located at 2081 E. Ellsworth Road, had appeared on the council’s April 15 meeting agenda. The council approved the R3 zoning at that meeting. But as the hour grew late, at around 3 a.m. the council postponed all remaining items, including the Summit Townhomes site plan, until May 6.

Both the site plan and zoning request had … [Full Story]

Planning, DDA: City Council to Set Course?

Ann Arbor city council meeting (March 18, 2013) Part 1: The two main events of the council’s meeting centered around planning in the downtown area: (1) consideration of a possible moratorium on D1 (downtown core) site plans; and (2) consideration of the site plan for 413 E. Huron, located in a D1 district.

The March 18, 2013 city council meeting did not adjourn until nearly 2 a.m. From left: Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Margie Teall (Ward 4) and city administrator Steve Powers.

The March 18, 2013 city council meeting did not adjourn until nearly 2 a.m. From left: Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Margie Teall (Ward 4) and city administrator Steve Powers. (Photos by the writer.)

The council decided to conduct a review of D1 zoning, without imposing a moratorium. That cleared the way to consider the 413 E. Huron project, which the council eventually voted to postpone – at roughly 1:30 a.m. Because of the amount of time spent on just those items, they’ll be included in a separate Chronicle report.

Apart from those two items, the council’s agenda still included a planning and land use focus, as well as a downtown theme. An additional theme was the city council’s relationship to two other public bodies – the city planning commission and the board of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority.

In the case of the planning commission, the council for a second time balked at the commission’s recommendation of R3 (townhouse) zoning for a recently annexed parcel on Ellsworth near Stone School Road – planned as the site of Summit Townhomes, which would be a 24-unit development. The council postponed consideration of the Summit Townhomes site plan and the zoning, having previously postponed the zoning. The council also had previously referred the zoning recommendation back to the planning commission for re-review. The council’s second postponement on March 18 came after the commission’s re-affirmation of its original recommended R3 zoning. The council sent no explicit communication to the planning commission requesting action, beyond the implicit message of postponing the vote.

In the case of the DDA board, the council is weighing changes to the city ordinance governing the composition of that body, but postponed those changes for a second time at its March 18 meeting. The more significant of the ordinance changes involves clarifying how the Ann Arbor DDA’s tax increment finance capture is calculated, which has implications for millions of dollars for the DDA, the city of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, Washtenaw Community College and the Ann Arbor District Library.

Also related to the DDA, early in the council’s meeting an oral report was given on a session of the council’s audit committee – held the previous week to review the DDA’s FY 2012 audit. In the middle portion of the council meeting, councilmembers postponed the ordinance changes. And in the early morning hours of March 19, after the voting agenda was concluded, a member of the audit committee – Sally Petersen (Ward 2) – announced her intention to propose a task force on the DDA.

Related to other boards and commissions, the council confirmed the appointment of a chair for the zoning board of appeals (ZBA): Alex Milshteyn. He replaces Carol Kuhnke, who resigned in December 2012 after being elected judge of the 22nd Circuit Court.

In other business, the council gave approval for the zoning and site plan of The Shoppes at 3600, a proposed retail development on Plymouth Road.

The council also voted to object to the renewal of a liquor license for The Arena, a downtown bar located at Division and Washington streets. The basis for the objection – which will be forwarded to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission for final action – was non-payment of taxes.

The council also gave initial approval to a revision to the city’s sign ordinance. It would essentially maintain current conditions, but provide for certain limited digital signs with a restricted range of changeable elements.

Council communications included a briefing on upcoming changes the council will be asked to consider for the city’s public art ordinance. In other communications, the council will be giving a fire station reconfiguration plan some additional explicit discussion at a future working session – although it appears that the idea has insufficient traction to move forward.

Public commentary at the meeting covered a range of topics, including a call for the council to waive privilege on legal advice that councilmembers had received on the D1 moratorium issue – because they’ve now voted not to enact the moratorium. [Full Story]

Summit Townhomes Delayed by Council

The site plan and necessary zoning for the Summit Townhomes project have been postponed by the Ann Arbor city council at its March 18, 2013 meeting. The items will come back to the council on April 15. The property is located at 2081 E. Ellsworth Road.

Parcel (shaded yellow) requested to be zoned as R3 (townhouse dwelling district). The blue boundary delineates the Malletts Creek watershed. The parcel for the Summit Townhomes development (shaded yellow). The city council voted to postpone a final decision on zoning the parcel to R3 (townhouse dwelling district). … [Full Story]

Planners: Same Answer on Ellsworth Zoning

Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (Feb. 21, 2013): Acting under the direction of the city council, Ann Arbor planning commissioners reconsidered the zoning they had previously recommended for a parcel on Ellsworth Road, east of Stone School. Commissioners came to the same conclusion – that it should be zoned R3 (townhouse district).

University of Michigan, Beyond the Diag, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

University of Michigan students with Beyond the Diag, a neighborhood outreach program. They attended the Feb. 21, 2013 meeting of the Ann Arbor planning commission, which included a brief presentation about the program. (Photos by the writer.)

The vacant lot at 2081 E. Ellsworth Road is the location for the proposed Summit Townhomes project, where the developer wants to build 24 attached residential units in four separate buildings. Because it’s being annexed into the city from Pittsfield Township, the parcel needs to be given a zoning designation. Planning commissioners had recommended R3 zoning (townhouse district) at their Nov. 20, 2012 meeting.

The zoning request was on the council’s Feb. 4, 2013 agenda for final approval, but during a public hearing on the item, several people raised concerns related to increased density in that part of town. So councilmembers voted unanimously to refer the zoning issue back to planning commissioners for another look.

At the commission’s Feb. 21 meeting, planning staff reviewed two other zoning options that would fit with the city’s master plan for that area. But even those options with lower density – for single-family homes – would result in more driveways accessing Ellsworth, causing more traffic concerns. Nor would stormwater management be improved with the other options. So planning staff again recommended the R3 zoning.

Three people spoke to commissioners during a public hearing on the zoning reconsideration, including two residents who live at the nearby Forest Hills Cooperative. They expressed concern about broader issues with the area – including crime and a lack of recreational facilities – as well as the specific proposed zoning and project for that site. Planning manager Wendy Rampson indicated that based on the council’s discussion, city administrator Steve Powers is asking the city’s parks and police staff to look into concerns raised about that area. There is also the opportunity for input on the city’s master plan, she said, when the planning commission holds a public hearing on that topic each May.

In other action at the Feb. 21 meeting, commissioners recommended that the city council approve a site plan for an expansion of the Theta Delta Chi house at 700 S. State St. The historic structure, built in 1922, is located at the southwest corner of State and Monroe, across from the University of Michigan law school. The building had been leased to another fraternity after the Theta Delta Chi chapter at UM became inactive in 1997. The chapter “recolonized” a few years ago, then took possession of the building again in May of 2012. The local architecture firm HopkinsBurns Design Studio has been hired to handle the expansion. It includes making a rear addition to the building, although there are no plans to increase the current occupancy of 33 residents.

The Feb. 21 meeting included another UM connection. Commissioners heard a presentation about Beyond the Diag, a relatively new neighborhood outreach program. It’s a student-initiated effort to build community among students and non-students, and to raise safety awareness on campus and near-campus neighborhoods. One of the program assistants – Matt Lonnerstater, a graduate student in urban and regional planning – also works as an intern with the city’s planning staff. [Full Story]

Planners Reconfirm Ellsworth Zoning

Zoning for property at 2081 E. Ellsworth Road – where the Summit Townhomes project is proposed – was back on the Ann Arbor planning commission’s agenda for another look, following a city council directive to reconsider zoning for the residential project. At their Feb. 21, 2013 meeting, planning commissioners voted again to recommend that the site be zoned R3 (townhouse district) – the same zoning they had previously recommended at their Nov. 20, 2012 meeting.

The developer wants to build 24 attached residential units in four separate buildings, with each building between 80 to 160 feet in length. Each of the 24 units would have a floor area of about 1,300 square feet, and an attached one-car garage. The plan … [Full Story]

City Council Puts Off Townhouse Zoning

Ann Arbor city council meeting (Feb. 4, 2013): Two significant land use items were included in the council’s agenda, but councilmembers moved ahead on just one of them. A request to zone a recently annexed piece of property as R3 (townhouse district) prompted long deliberations by the council, and ultimately a referral of the item back to the planning commission for further review.

Current zoning of properties surrounding the parcel requested to be zoned at R3 (townhouse dwelling district).

Current zoning of properties surrounding the parcel at 2081 E. Ellsworth Road – denoted with a “?” Owners are requesting the parcel to be zoned as R3 (townhouse dwelling district). (Map labeled by The Chronicle.)

Dependent on the R3 zoning is Summit Townhomes – a proposed project for the 2081 E. Ellsworth Road site, located in the southern part of the city just east of Stone School Road. The townhouse project’s site plan is expected to come before the council for approval later this month. The planning commission has already recommended that the Summit Townhomes project be approved, and previously recommended the R3 zoning. The council itself had already given the zoning its initial approval at a previous meeting.

But during the public hearing about the zoning on Feb. 4, the council heard from several people who spoke against the zoning and the project, reprising many of the same objections that had been raised more than seven months ago at the June 19, 2012 meeting of the planning commission. Concerns included overcrowding and congestion in the area, and a lack of adequate city services. Also weighing in with general support for zoning that fits with the desires of residents was Washtenaw County commissioner Andy LaBarre, who represents the county district where the site is located.

Another item related to future land use was council action to authorize the distribution of the draft South State Street corridor plan to neighboring jurisdictions and other stakeholders, such as the University of Michigan, the Ann Arbor Public Schools, and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority. After a mandated comment period, the city planning commission will have the opportunity to make revisions to the plan, before the commission and the city council make a decision to adopt it.

A major infrastructure study, with a roughly $1 million budget, was also authorized by the council – to give the city a clearer understanding of how flows behave in the sanitary sewer system, especially during rainy periods. The study is prompted by a desire to measure the impact of a footing drain disconnection program that the city has implemented for over a decade. In the last year, the program has generated strong protest from the Glen Leven neighborhood. The footing drain disconnection program was created in part to remedy the backup of raw sewage in basements during heavy rains.

The city council also authorized revisions to two existing technology agreements. One was an agreement between the city of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority to act as a purchasing consortium. The modification to the agreement will allow other participants to be added to the consortium in a streamlined way. The second agreement was the extension of a contract with the city of Chelsea to provide various IT services.

The council put off a decision on issuing bonds to support energy improvements for its property assessed clean energy (PACE) program. The item had been added late to the agenda, and several councilmembers had questions they wanted answered before voting on it.

Although the agenda itself was light, several significant communications were included, either as written attachments or conveyed verbally. The written reports attached to the agenda included a revised auditor’s letter and a report on how the street resurfacing millage money was spent during the 2012 season.

Conveyed verbally was a report from the council’s budget committee chair, Marcia Higgins (Ward 4), who alerted councilmembers that on Feb. 11 and Feb. 25 the council would hold budget work sessions starting at 6 p.m., with each meeting consisting of two 2-hour sessions with a break.

Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), chair of the city’s taxicab board, called for enforcement of the city ordinance that is meant to prevent the operation of “rogue limousines” – in the context of a reported sexual assault of a University of Michigan student by the driver of either a taxicab or limousine.

Kunselman also called for a number of revisions to the city ordinance that establishes the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, including stricter regulations on membership of the board, but more significantly a limitation on the way the DDA’s tax increment finance (TIF) capture is calculated. [Full Story]