The Ann Arbor City council unanimously rejected a proposal to allow for the creation of apartments connected to single-family homes Monday night.
Urban planning experts say the proposal would provide needed low income housing options, but many Ann Arbor residents have voiced opposition. In a public meeting last night, some complained that the new rule could allow for an influx of students into family neighborhoods.
“We feel threatened by an invasion of students and unscrupulous landlords,” said Gary Supanich, a resident of South Forest Avenue.
“We seek to strengthen not destroy our neighborhoods,” he added.
Some residents complained that the new regulation could not be enforced adequately.
“The biggest problem of any of this is that none of it can be enforced,” said Ann Arbor realtor Jim Wines. “I”m just glad the council did what it did.”
The proposal would have allowed home owners to create small apartments connected to their homes to offer for rent, known as accessory apartments. Legal in many other cities, they are most often occupied by seniors, single people and students.
“It would have been a very efficient way to provide a little bit more affordable housing,” said Douglass Kelbaugh, dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Planning.
Ann Arbor City Council member Heidi Herrell said she regretted voting against the proposal but felt obligated to respond to public pressure.
“The citizens have been really concerned about it,” said Herrell, “They”re afraid it”s going to destroy neighborhoods. I think it”s going to preserve neighborhoods.”
Kate Warner, an associate professor in the College of Architecture and Urban Planning, said the proposal would have had a small impact.
“It was very watered down,” Warner said, “At most it would add a couple hundred units.”
Because the owner must live next door to their apartment, potential student occupants would not cause problems, Warner said.
“Those people will exercise some restraint in who they rent the apartment to. It”s not the type of thing that is going to drastically change neighborhoods.”
The proposal would have included a number of restrictions the new apartments would have to be 300 feet apart and limited to two occupants. Also, the policy would have been reviewed after a evaluation period.
“I think it”s a case where the likely reality has been blown out of proportion by fears and stereotypes of students that aren”t likely to happen,” said Warner.