Stories indexed with the term ‘Zaragon Place 2’

Modified Moratorium on Marijuana Passed

Ann Arbor City Council meeting (Aug. 5, 2010): Around 75 people packed into city council chambers on Thursday night to hear council deliberations on a marijuana-related moratorium. The item had been added to the council’s agenda late the previous day – and the issue had received no discussion or mention by city officials at any previous open meeting.


Renee Wolf, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, spoke against the proposed medical marijuana moratorium: "Please don't take away my medicine – that's all I ask." (Photos by the writer.)

The measure as initially drafted by city attorney Stephen Postema would have halted all dispensing and growing of medical marijuana in the city. The moratorium came in response to the operation of some dispensaries and cultivation of marijuana in the city after the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act of 2008 was approved by Michigan voters.

In 2004, Postema had argued that the city’s charter amendment, which allows medical uses of marijuana and was approved by voters that year, was not enforceable, and said that people would continue to be prosecuted as before.

Several of the attendees addressed the council during public commentary, all opposing the moratorium. During deliberations, councilmembers made significant amendments to Postema’s proposal that took off some of its harsher edges. Amendments to Postema’s moratorium included a specific exemption for patients and caregivers, a grandfathering-in of existing facilities in the city and a reduction in the length of moratorium from 180 to 120 days. The milder version of the measure, when unanimously approved, was met with applause from the audience.

In other significant business, the council: approved the site plan for a new downtown residential development, Zaragon Place 2; authorized an extension on Village Green’s purchase option agreement for the First and Washington parcel where the City Apartments PUD is planned; gave initial first-reading approval to a ban on placement of couches on porches and other outdoor environments; and approved a change to the site plan approval process that replaces definite deadlines with a standard of “reasonable time.”

Mayor John Hieftje also placed recently-retired county administrator Bob Guenzel’s name before the council as a nomination to the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board. He clarified that Guenzel would be replacing Jennifer S. Hall, whose term expired on July 31.

Council typically meets on Mondays, but moved its meeting to Thursday to accommodate the Aug. 3 primary election. All council incumbents who were running for reelection won their races. [Full Story]

Moving Ahead on Zaragon Place 2

Ann Arbor Planning Commission meeting (June 15, 2010): With only minor suggestions from planning commissioners, the 14-story Zaragon Place 2 apartment complex was unanimously approved by the commission, and will next be considered by the city council, likely at one of their August meetings.

Bonnie Bona

Bonnie Bona, chair of Ann Arbor's city planning commission, listens to a presentation about Zaragon Place 2. A rendering of the proposed project is on the screen in the background, viewed from the William Street perspective. (Photos by the writer.)

The project – to be located at the southeast corner of William and Thompson, next to Cottage Inn restaurant – drew support from two representatives of neighboring businesses, who said they were eager for new residents to arrive as potential customers. The site has been vacant and considered blighted for more than a decade.

Unlike recent proposals for two other residential developments – Heritage Row and The Moravian – Zaragon Place 2 does not require special zoning and has not faced opposition from neighborhood groups.

Some of the discussion by commissioners centered on the 40 parking spaces to be provided within the structure, as well as 40 spaces for bikes in a secured storage room. The ground level will include retail space fronting William. Also as part of the project, the city’s parks unit is asking the developer for $48,000 to help pay for new parks in the area, or to enhance existing parks.

In other business, the commission approved a special exemption use for Big Shot Fireworks to set up a tent in front of the Quarter Bistro, in the Westgate Shopping Center. Commissioners were schooled in fireworks-related legislation – anything that spins, explodes or leaves the ground can’t be sold in Michigan to the general public.

And a rezoning of a previously unzoned parcel on Jackson Avenue – site of the former Barnard Plating factory, next to Hillside Terrace Retirement Center – passed without discussion.

Finally, the commission discussed and passed a resolution that more formally outlines their plan to work with the city’s environmental and energy commissions toward the goal of building a sustainable Ann Arbor. It’s the outgrowth of a joint meeting the three commissions held in April, and was characterized by planning commission chair Bonnie Bona as the beginning of a community conversation about sustainability. [Full Story]

Zaragon, Heritage Row and The Moravian

Scott Bonney, Newcombe Clark, Tim Stout

Scott Bonney, left, of Neumann/Smith Architects, talks with Newcombe Clark, a partner in The Moravian development. Neumann/Smith is the architect for both The Moravian and Zaragon Place 2. At right is Tim Stout of O'Neal Construction.

Monday afternoon’s public forum for Zaragon Place 2 – a proposed 14-story apartment building at the southeast corner of Thompson and William, next to Cottage Inn – was held by the developer and his team to comply with the city’s citizen participation ordinance.

But among those attending the two-hour open house at the Michigan Union were developers for both The Moravian and Heritage Row – two residential projects that have been vigorously opposed by some residents in the city’s near-south side.

There are significant differences among the three projects, but some connections as well, especially among the project teams. And all are at different stages of the process: plans for Zaragon Place 2 haven’t yet been submitted to the city’s planning department, while Heritage Row has been recommended by the planning commission and is expected to come before the city council in May. Meanwhile, in a grueling April 5 city council meeting that lasted well past 1 a.m., The Moravian failed to get the eight votes it needed for approval. Nearly 90 people – both supporters and opponents – spoke during a 3.5-hour public commentary on the project.

Based on reactions at Monday’s open house for Zaragon Place 2, it seems unlikely this latest project will arouse similar passions. [Full Story]