Council delays vote on development moratorium

By Matthew Jackonen, Daily Staff Reporter
Published February 19, 2013

The Ann Arbor City Council decided at a meeting Tuesday night to postpone a decision on whether to set a moratorium on development in the D1/D2 zoning area.

A moratorium would squash plans to develop a high-rise at 413 E. Huron, which were not endorsed by the Planning Commission when it voted earlier this month.

Pat Lennon, an attorney for the project’s developer, said he believes City Council was too hasty in approving the moratorium.

“We are understandably frustrated by this,” Lennon said.

“We’re concerned that a motion … would come up with such short notice and apparently little discussion,” he added.

During public commentary, Jeffery Crockett, an Ann Arbor resident, said he has reservations about the project due to the damage it would do to the historic oak trees within the zoning area.

“It can’t compensate the community for the loss of 250-year-old oak tress that inspired the name of Ann Arbor,” Crockett said. “It will be our children … that will wonder why we didn’t do more to save our landmarks.”

Carl Heuter, another Ann Arbor resident, said even though the proposals are in accordance with the law and the city’s ordinances they should be re-evaluated.

Council allocates PACE bonds

After a postponement at the last City Council meeting, a resolution to allocate up to $1 million in Property-Assessed Clean Energy bonds was passed Tuesday night.

The city’s PACE program was created after it received $432,800 in bonds from the U.S. Department of Energy. The goal is to improve the city’s energy efficiency and help businesses increase their use of clean energy.

The proposal includes the allocation of bonds to several different areas and businesses — including Big Boy on Plymouth Road, Bivouac on State Street, the Goodyear building on S. Main Street, and Kerrytown Market & Shoppes — for energy-efficient upgrades in such as lighting and infrastructure.

Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje commended the proposal for allowing businesses to increase their energy efficiency at a low cost to the city.

However, Councilmember Sabra Briere (D–Ward 1) expressed some concern that single-family homes would not receive funding.

“In the couple of years leading up to the state approving PACE funding and the city initiating this project, a lot of us hoped that we’d have PACE funding for single-family homes,” Briere said.

However, this concern did not keep Briere from voting in favor of the resolution, noting that she believes these bonds are extremely effective regardless.

“I think PACE funding is one of the most effective ways of decreasing our energy footprint,” Briere said.

Resolution to adopt sustainability framework

City Council also agreed to launch the Ann Arbor sustainability framework project Tuesday night.

The project, which is funded by the Home Depot Foundation, contains 16 objectives to improve the city’s sustainability. It launches a 18-month plan to improve sustainability, taking actions such as maximizing the use of sustainable energy and promoting the construction of more sustainable buildings. The plan also attempts to provide more non-motorized travel options, such as bicycling and walking, and plan for more mixed land use.

Although there was not much discussion on the matter, Councilmember Jane Lumm (I–Ward 2) noted that there was much work put into the project before the approval was granted Tuesday night.