City Council approves construction of new game-day condos

Tuesday, June 5, 2018 - 10:28am

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Darby Stipe/Daily

On Monday June 4, Ann Arbor City Council convened to discuss a variety of issues, including the Unified Development Code as well as implications of zoning laws on the proposed construction of new game-day condos.

The revision of the UDC was first brought up by a group of residents during the public hearing.  Wendy Carman, a member of the Environmental Commission, said she was in support of a consolidated ordinance and has reviewed parts of the new working draft.

“The draft went almost completely unnoticed by the public,” Carman said. “I began with the Wetland Ordinance and I found one glaring mistake — a missing sentence requiring a permit to drain a wetland.”

Carman said the mistake was later corrected, but explained that there was no process in place to catch these errors. It took Carman four months to review a small portion of the more than 200-page document.

Councilmember Zachary Ackerman, D-Ward 3, suggested postponing discussion to the second council meeting in June, while Councilmember Jack Eaton, D-Ward 4, said it should be postponed to the second meeting in July.

“We really need to have a chart,” Eaton said. “When you do complex legislation like this and you move all the parts around you should have a cross-reference chart of it, where it used to be and where it ended up. This is what we should be doing, instead we issued a report that was 275 pages long and 656 footnotes, pointing things that had been done to the previous code.”

Ackerman said any desired changes to the zoning laws should be carried out through the UDC and should not be tabled for months. Ultimately, City Council voted to move the decision to July 16.

The Council also discussed the proposed construction of gameday condos in a residential area, which is legally permitted through current zoning code.

Councilmember Anne Bannister, D-Ward 1, said her ward expressed concern over this type of new construction.

“I think that Ward 1 residents have expressed that they are worried about this sort of short-term rental, game-day, condo-type thing, Airbnbs,” Bannister said. “It may not be owner-occupied, and so I think this is something Ward 1 residents are very concerned about.”

Mayor Chris Taylor said the fact that the construction is in line with zoning code was significant in deciding whether to allow it.

“This project complies with our zoning code,” Taylor said. “This renders it our legal obligation to vote yes. It is an instance where it highlights our need to get through the UDC conversation to get to the substantive conversation of how we want our zoning to be.”

The council voted to approve the new construction.

The meeting also covered issues such as the renewal of recycling contracts, the price of meter parking tickets, and the crosswalks of the city. In addition, the mayor acknowledged Gun Violence Awareness Day and honored Jim Kosteva of University of Michigan Community Relations, who is retiring.

The Ray Detter Award and the Historic District Commission Awards were also given to students and members of the community respectively. For the Historic District Commission Awards, the main award of the year went to the restoration of the State Street Theater.