The Ann Arbor City Council convened Tuesday evening to discuss a number of issues, including a resolutions to adopt the Reimagine Washtenaw Corridor Improvement Study and another proposal to proceed with the Housing Affordability and Equity Analysis.
After a lengthy deliberation, City Council decided to postpone the vote to adopt the Reimagine Washtenaw Corridor Improvement Study. Councilmember Jane Lumm (I–Ward 2) suggested the vote be postponed until April 20.
The 18-month study recommends changes be made in the Washtenaw Avenue corridor, including the addition of a wide median cross boulevard section, a four travel lane with wide median and biking lanes and the inclusion of “The Michigan Left Turns” for wide median segments.
The plan aims to reduce traffic and further foster economic development for the business in the area. The study asks for the participation of nearby regions including the city of Ann Arbor, Pittsfield Township, city of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township.
Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor (D) supported the adoption of the plan and voted against postponing the vote to adopt the resolution, noting the study’s recommendations are not binding.
Several councilmembers were concerned about a number of issues with the resolution. One of the primary concerns expressed by multiple councilmembers was that many business owners affected by the resolution were not consulted on the matter.
Councilmember Stephen Kunselman (D–Ward 3), who favored postponing the vote, said these recommendations could take parking spaces away from stores. He said the money for the project should instead be used to fix roads.
“There are too many driveway cuts on Washtenaw for a boulevard and the Michigan Left to work,” Kunselman said. “You are not going able to service every driveway or business that is along Washtenaw.”
Councilmember Graydon Krapohl (D–Ward 4) said he favored adopting the resolution because the study acts as a map guiding the city’s direction for the corridor.
“To go down the continued path that we are (in), to have Washtenaw as it is would be a complete disaster,” Krapohl said. “I mean it’s not going to get better. It’s not going to improve.”
Despite postponing a vote on the study, City Council approved the adoption of the Housing Affordability and Equity Analysis with a vote of 10 to one.
The analysis supports building 3,139 affordable housing units in Ann Arbor and Pittsfield Township until 2035. It also suggests building 4,178 new middle class households in Ypsilanti.
Councilmember Jack Eaton (D–Ward 4), who voted against the adoption, said the analysis asks more from the city than simply buttressing affordable housing. He said the issue should be addressed by the county government, not the city.
“While I support funding affordable housing in Ann Arbor, I don’t believe that we should be trying to get wealthy young professionals to move to Ypsilanti and getting people who can afford housing in Ypsilanti to move to Ann Arbor to change our demographics. It is ill conceived.”