Around 60 Ann Arbor residents met Wednesday night to discuss the proposed rezoning of the North-South Maple Road and West Stadium Boulevard area into the Transit Corridor (TC) 1 district, which aims to support redevelopment and transit services. The meeting took place at the Westgate branch of the Ann Arbor Public Library, where citizens voiced their concerns over how the rezoning will affect local small businesses and residential areas.
The new district, TC1, was proposed by Ordinance no. ORD-21-19 and was approved by the Ann Arbor City Council Planning Commission on July 6, 2021 and was effective July 25, 2021. TC1 will run alongside already established transit corridors and is intended to encourage redevelopment, affordable housing and sustainable forms of development. The rezoning will impact 214 acres of land and 193 parcels of land.
The Ann Arbor City Council will vote on the ordinance at their upcoming meeting on Oct. 3, and the proposal is expected to return to Council at a later date before finalization.
Ann Arbor resident Glen Ziegler, one of the speakers at the meeting, said Wednesday’s discussion was an effort to gather residents who have similar thoughts on the proposal.
“This a large group very loosely put together, a group of people who have some common interests,” Ziegler said.
Part of the rezoning process will impose restrictions on the proposed boundaries of future developments. According to the ordinance, a two-story minimum building height and a first-story minimum height of 15 feet will be required. The zoning district will also include restrictions to building height relative to their distance from residential areas, starting with a 55-foot maximum building height within 80 feet of a residential area with increasing increments up to a 300-foot maximum building height within 1,000 feet from a residential area. There are no minimum parking requirements and no minimum lot areas or widths.
Some residents expressed criticism of the TC1 rezoning proposal because there were no requirements or incentives for affordable housing, sustainable building material use or protection for natural habitats. Additionally, residents said the proposal lacks transportation planning to accommodate increased traffic of buses, cars, bikes, deliveries and pedestrians. Ann Arbor residents in opposition also claimed there was no allowance or incentives for green or open spaces. Pamphlets urging the attendees to contact the mayor and City Council about how TC1 zoning will impact them were distributed during the event.
The meeting consisted of four presentations from a panel of residents who addressed various concerns over the rezoning proposition, including residents such as Glen Ziegler, Ralph McKee, Wendy Carman and Tom Stulberg.
Ann Arbor resident Tom Stulberg, one of the panelists at the event expressed concern for the proposal, said the city is undergoing an incorrect process.
“I’ve spoken publicly in favor of transit-oriented development, but what’s being proposed now is not how I would do it,” Stulberg said. “The feedback that I’ve gotten from the experts is that for the past few years Ann Arbor has repeatedly not been following the right processes.”
Ziegler also said he was concerned the TC1 rezoning would result in the elimination of neighborhood shopping and delay progress toward the A2 Zero Carbon Neutrality Plan, which calls for powering the Ann Arbor electrical grid with 100% clean and renewable energy and reducing vehicle miles by at least 50%.
“This is what happened on Broadway, and happened with Packard, it happened on South Main,” said Ziegler. “All those neighborhoods lost their local neighborhood walkable shopping, and part of the NRA20 plan (is to promote) neighborhood shopping so people don’t get their cars and drive to go shop … It defeats the green purpose of the A2 Zero plan.”
Stulberg, a real estate professional and Ann Arbor resident, said he did not agree with the zoning the Planning Commission has proposed.
“I don’t think (the commission) should have created the TC1 zoning category before planning it in sufficient detail,” Stulberg said. “It is self-evident that different areas have different characteristics. State and Eisenhower are very different from West Stadium (and Maple).”
Councilmembers Jen Eyer, D-Ward 4; Lisa Disch, D-Ward 1; and Kathy Griswold, D-Ward 2, were also present at the meeting and responded to critiques of the rezoning ordinance. Disch said councilmembers are gathering resident feedback ahead of the upcoming City Council meeting on Monday to vote on the rezoning proposal.
“Transit-supported zoning, or clustering residences near transit lines where there are services, have been approved in seven elements of our comprehensive plan,” Disch said. “So, it had not yet been implemented. We are starting to implement it now, but we are not ahead of comprehensive master planning. We are behind it and we are catching up with what has already been thoroughly vetted and taken people’s feedback.”
Daily News Reporter Rachel Mintz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction:A previous version of this article incorrectly said that Councilmembers Eyer and Disch shared critiques over the rezoning ordinance. This article has been updated to reflect that they responded to critiques