City Council postpones debate on housing development

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 - 9:31pm

After the Ann Arbor City Council postponed discussion last week on a proposed housing development on Nixon Road, the conversation is now set to occur in November.The site plan for the proposed 282-unit Woodbury Club Apartments has been discussed at the last two council meetings, but at the Sept. 21 meeting, the conversation was postponed to the Nov. 16 meeting. The Council is requested more research and planning before the next hearing on the subject. Concerns with traffic, natural landscape, wetlands and stormwater runoff were among the reasons for postponement. The plan also requires a zoning change to move forward.

The apartment complex would be located on the corner of Nixon Road and M-14. They would be situated across the street from another proposed development on the site of the two Nixon Farm properties.

Councilmember Sumi Kailasapathy (D–Ward 1) said she would have a resolution drafted by the next meeting, though it will not be discussed at that time.

Several community and Council members were concerned that adding new housing in the area would increase existing traffic congestion.

The area’s natural environment was another concern to the development plan — specifically, issues of stormwater runoff and flooding. According to Kailasapathy, the burden of stormwater runoffs on neighboring communities is increasing.

“We know that significant rain events are growing in intensity and volume, which causes significant expenses to the city and property owners,” she said.

If the apartments are approved, the water runoff could be pushed to nearby apartment complexes. This could cause extensive flooding and water drainage issues, resulting in additional costs to the city and neighboring residents.

William Quinn, president of the board of directors for Barclay Park Condominiums, located near the proposed development,said the board is against the project.

“We are very concerned about the wetlands which border Barclay Park and which are within the park,” Quinn said. 

Collin Ross, president of the board of directors for the Arbor Hills Condominium Association also attended the meeting. Ross said the association has filed a petition of protest against the approval of the site plan.

“I should point out that the system in Arbor Hills is a private system that is paid for and maintained by our association,” Ross said. “Therefore, any additional stormwater loads on the system could cause problems and result in significant expenses to our association.”

The Woodbury Club Apartments site plan is split into two parcels, an eastern and a western side. Though apartments have been allocated for the western parcel, plans for the eastern parcel are still unclear. It is possible that the city may buy the approximately 25 acres for parkland.

Some members of Council expressed their concern about this undetermined sector of the plan at the most recent Council meeting on Sept. 21. Councilmember Jack Eaton (D–Ward 4) said he would like to see those plans resolved before a vote to rezone the property and pave way for the development occurs.

Ultimately, the proposal to rezone and approve the site plan has been moved to November. To rezone the area would mean to change the city code of the land from an agricultural purpose to a residential zone. If a rezoning was approved, the Council would then move to either approve or disapprove the site plans for the developments.

Before future discussions, several Council members urged the developers to open discussion with nearby residents.

“I’m really uncomfortable moving on in the zoning when the whole issue of the eastern portion of this property is still out there,” Eaton said. “The whole issue of traffic is still out there. Even more significant, the wetlands and the impact that this project could have on the neighboring community. Until we resolve those three, I’m reluctant to vote on any zoning change.”