By Farone E. Rasheed, Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 18, 2013
On Monday night, the Ann Arbor City Council continued discussions on a resolution that would establish a moratorium on site planning for the lot at 413 East Huron Street, deliberating on a re-evaluation of the area’s current D1 zoning regulations that allows for high-rise construction.
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An extensive public hearing was held as numerous residents approached the council to voice opinions on the proposed site plan.
Debate ranged from a desire to protect surrounding residential neighborhoods to the need to encourage and foster jobs catalyzed by urban development.
Chief developers were present to illustrate the evolution of the project over the last nine months. In light of claims that they would be entitled to collect damages from a potential moratorium, neighbors countered with an impassioned plea to stand up to the threats of litigation.
A staff member from the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission noted that the group was unanimous in supporting the moratorium, citing Ann Arbor City Code for Planning and Development Issues, rules on historical preservation.
Sabra Briere (D-Ward 1) began council deliberations and expressed a need to invoke a moratorium to evaluate the situation and address the needs of the community.
“Most paramount to me is that we actually look at the downtown zoning,” Briere said.
Stephen Kunselman (D-Ward 3) echoed similar sentiments, noting that he had voted against the Ann Arbor Discovering Downtown initiative, citing an approach that he argued was “too simplistic.” He added that the existing conditions allowing commercial high-rise buildings to be built alongside the residential community of the Old 4th Ward historic district was a situation warranting correction.
“It just makes no sense from an urban design perspective,” Kunselman said.
Chuck Warpehoski (D-Ward 5) said re-evaluation was necessary for the creation and maintenance of “buildings that are worthy of our community.”
Christopher Taylor (D-Ward 3) offered amendments to the resolution — changes that many, including Mayor John Hieftje and Margie Teall (D-Ward 4), supported. However, Briere Marcia Higgins (D-Ward 4) and Jane Lumm (I-Ward 2) expressed a need for additional time to fully evaluate the proposed revisions.
The council moved for a second intermission just after midnight as deliberations progressed well into the early morning hours.
City administrator Steve Powers also provided an update on city cleaning, noting the addition of resources for a second sweep and promising to have the city cleaned from storm damage by March 29.
Concerning the continued work on the city’s public art ordinance, Briere provided a draft revision illustrating new changes but noted that work was far from finalized.