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City Council to vote on residential project

By Farone E. Rasheed, Daily Staff Reporter
Published February 18, 2013

After the Ann Arbor City Council deferred plans presented by the Ann Arbor City Planning Commission to develop the residential project at 413 E. Huron St. downtown, the City Council will vote on a resolution Tuesday to establish a moratorium on plans at that site and others downtown.

If passed, new proposals for the D1/D2 zoning area will be suspended. This comes after a Feb. 5-3 vote by the commission failed to reach the necessary six votes for approval.

City Council members have stated concerns that granting D1/D2 zoning allowance for building expansion, particularly the expansion of high-rise apartment buildings, could negatively impact adjacent residential neighborhoods.

The Planning Commission has postponed review of the area to allow for further research on development. Recent projects that the commission has passed include the newly completed high-rise Zaragon West and The Varsity, soon to be completed on East Washington Street, located at 215 N. Fifth Street.

The commission plans to evaluate any negative effects of these new complexes and has opted to potentially postpone proposals altogether for the site, pending a possible rezoning of the area.

Of the proposed bids in jeopardy, the 413 E. Huron St. Project — which has been repeatedly discussed — includes plans for a 14-story, 271,855 square-foot building. The proposal, which includes 537 bedrooms and a two-floor underground parking facility, would provide additional options for housing closer to campus.

Council will also vote on a sustainability framework project, which outlines 16 objectives toward a more sustainable city. The project, which began in Jan. 2011 with a full-funding grant from the Home Depot Foundation, will establish a broad 20-year plan of objectives and strategies, including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the promotion of energy efficiency and the building of sustainable buildings designed with a more environmentally conscious disposal of carbon and construction waste.

Along with the sustainability framework, the City Council will vote on a resolution authorizing Property Assessed Clean Energy bonds, postponed from an earlier Feb. 4 meeting. The proposal, which Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje has openly expressed his support for, is supported by a $432,800 Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, authorizing the chief financial officer and the treasurer to distribute bonds of an allocation of up to $1 million with the objective of increasing the use of clean energy among local businesses.

Correction Appended: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that City Council voted to reject the 413 E. Huron St. Project.