At present this parcel is an old apple orchard with 2 single family residences at the south end, trees between them and the orchard, and trees at the north end. The existing residences will be demolished. The post card sent to nearby residents states: “The proposed project is for 16 unit multi-family units. Each ranch style unit has, two bedrooms, its own entry and a single car garage.” Here is the revised proposed site plan.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Storm water Questions

At the last public meeting citizens asked questions about storm water run off from the site.  The city has specific requirements for commercial development but uses the County requirements for multi-family residential development.  

Jack Eaton contacted the County Water Resources Commissioner, Evan Pratt, and asked what the County storm water requirements were.   Jack reported he was told:
To manage both water quantity and quality basins must be designed to capture  . . . the 100 year storm event 
The developer proposed drawings state the area of the development is 115,000 sq ft.  A 100 yr storm event in Ann Arbor is usually considered to be 4.75 inches in a 24 hour period.  That amount, 4.75 inches over 115,000 sq ft is about 45,500 cubic ft of water.

But in the report by developers of their recent meeting with neighborhood citizens the developer states:
The developer is responsible for storm water management for the entire 2.64 acres. . ....The storm water detention system holds approximately 20,000 cf of water in pipes that are 72” in diameter.
We need to ask why there is such a large difference and if the County and the Planning Commission intend to accept the developers calculation.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

Zoning: Some information

I have attempted to summarize information from several emails.  This is not complete zoning information, just a start at understanding future tools, or obstacles.  See R4B below.  Please add information or corrections in Comments below.  Lynn

     From Wendy Rampson, AICP, Planning Manger, A2 Community Services:  The property has been zoned for multiple-family development for many years, and in fact, Hillside Terrace had a site plan approved for an assisted living expansion about 20 years ago that was never built.
     Answers from Susan Bowers (contact person for petitioner/developer):  Q:  How many units?  A:  The City of Ann Arbor Zoning Ordinance would allow the owner to develop 38 units.  But the Owner is only going to build 16 units.  Q:  How tall with the buildings be?  A:  The buildings are single story and some have daylight basements.  The mid point of the roof is 17'-6"
     From Sue P.:  The majority of the property is zoned R4B (multiple family dwelling), and has been for many years (25 or more?).  A small portion of the southern most property, which contains the present two rental homes (one behind the other), is zoned R1D (single family dwelling).  Here is a good site to view our zoning map, and give a good perspective of all the different types of zoning within our area.  (I zoomed to 1600% to see the detail I wanted).
Here is an excerpt from the city zoning ordinances as it pertains to R4B zoning:  “Section 5:10.8. Intent: The multiple-family dwelling districts are intended to permit dwelling units to be arranged one above the other or side by side.  The R4B multiple-family dwelling district should be located in intermediate areas of the City, situated on small tracts of land in established areas for in-fill purposes or medium sized tracts of land for moderate-sized developments.”
     From E. Potts (former Zoning Appeals Board member):  It is hard to find out when a parcel was zoned.  Most zoning is assigned at the time of annexation to the City, or if the land owner asks for a rezoning, for development purposes.  Once zoned, the zoning goes with the land, whoever the owner or whether or not it's developed, until an owner requests another zoning.
R1 is single family zoning, R2 is 2-family duplex, on up to R4 which is multi-family = apartments.  The added A, B, C, etc. designates where such zoning is suitable.  Each variation of zoning has different requirements for setbacks, lot size, open space, etc.
R4B zones are located away from the center of the city, for in-fill purposes or on medium sized tracts of land. This (Glendale Project) meets those standards.  Minimum gross lot size must be 14,000 sq.ft., 120 ft. in width.  Minimum lot area per dwelling unit is 2,900 sq.ft., with minimum open space of 55% of lot area and 300 sq. ft. of active open space per dwelling unit.  This tells you how many dwelling units can be built on a land parcel.  Required setbacks from lot lines - 25 ft. in front, 12 ft. each side, 30 ft. rear.
R4B also permits less dense development, such as single family or duplex structures, using single family or 2 family requirements.  (Emphasis added by Lynn.)
Site Plans:  The drawings the developer shows you should have these dimensions marked.  If not, they are omitting essential information.  If they don't tell you all of these dimensions, ask!  Look for the plan with contour lines showing steep and flat places, to orient yourselves as to what is where.  Ask to see the plan BEFORE the planned grading and the plan AFTER grading.  And the landscape plan -- it may all be one, for such a small project.
     From Sabra B.:  The ordinance on parking requires 2 parking spaces per dwelling unit for R4B.  (It also requires 1 bike space per 5 dwelling units, so expect a minimum of 32 parking spaces and 3-4 bike spaces.).  The site plan required for this proposed project will have to include storm water control measures.
     From R.Beane:  The one thing about the zoning that's been nagging at me from the start is that it was originally assigned when the parcel was part of Hillside Terrace and had Jackson Ave access.

Development Plan Approval Process

I do not live in the neighborhood near the Glendale project. I have, however, been through a couple of planning cycles for terrible site proposals. I'd like to comment briefly on how a development progresses through the planning process.

The planning process starts with the citizens participation meeting.  After that, the developer and planning staff hold a pre-submission meeting.  As I understand, the pre-submission meeting is held to give the developer some insight into what might be missing from the site plan and what must be done to comply with the zoning regulations.

The developer can submit the site plan after that meeting.  There is a deadline each month for submitting a plan in time to be included in the next Planning Commission meeting, but the site plan can be submitted at any time after the pre-submission meeting.  After the site plan is submitted, a planning staff member is assigned to the project.  Next, city staff holds an Advisory Development Committee Meeting.  That meeting will be open to the public.  Planning staff will write a report and the site plan will be submitted to the Planning Commission.  The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the site plan.  Notice of the planning commission's public hearing will be sent at least to everyone who signs in at the citizens participation meeting.

The citizens participation meeting is intended to allow neighbors to learn about a plan early enough in the process to allow them to try to influence the project.  It is a good idea to come to that meeting with an open mind, but a healthy sense of skepticism, too.  Be particularly concerned about the impact the project will have on traffic, storm systems and waste systems.  It may turn out that this project is a great addition to the neighborhood.  This meeting is your chance to learn about the plan and if necessary begin to gather information upon which to base opposition, if needed.

Just for background, you may find the experiences of my neighborhood informative.  We have seen four different bad plans for a site on South Maple Road.  None have been built.  To read about it, see:
Best wishes, Jack Eaton

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Some questions to consider

I am a member of the West Washtenaw Business Association.  I was just at a meeting where our 5th ward council representative, Chuck Warpahowski (sp?) and Chris Chang, a city planner, were present.  I talked to both of them about this planned development.

Because the development meets the multi-family zoning, there may not be any way we can change it to a few single-family homes.  The city has not seen any site plans yet.  However, the scheduled neighborhood feedback meeting on the 15th is very important because they will be taking into consideration all comments/questions about the development.  Important things to find out are:

1. Will there be a new extension of Charlton to the other side of Hillside Terrace?  Charlton is the path of least stop signs.  Can traffic bumps be installed to slow down the cars racing to get from one end of the street to the other?  (The Chris Chang didn't know about the "start-stop" of Charlton that occurs on this property.)
2. How will exit/entry traffic from the development be handled, especially with the planned traffic calming on Jackson Rd.?
3. How much of a set-back from Glendale will be allowed?  The city planner said the city WILL put in a sidewalk along Glendale.
4. Is there any way the developer can reduce the number of units?  This development, as planned, may add up to 32 more people to the neighborhood and at least 16 cars.
5. What about visitor parking to this development?  Where will that go?  On Glendale?
6. What upgrades to the sewage and water systems will be made in the neighborhood?  Many of us down the hill from Jackson have experienced sewage back-ups and water in our basements.  Supposedly we are not on the list of neighborhoods to have the planned footing disconnects.
7. Is the developer one who has a good aesthetic sense?  Does he care about how the development fits aesthetically in the neighborhood?  Think about what is planned for the corner of Division and Huron or what happened to the Heritage Row/City Place project on S. Fifth Ave.

These are just a few of the issues we discussed.  Chris Chang will not be at the January 15th neighborhood meeting, but will be at the planning commission meeting, which will be the next step.  He was surprised this property had not been developed, but was not that familiar with the neighborhood.  I encouraged him to drive down Glendale on his way back to his office.  Chuck may be present for at least part of our meeting.

In retrospect, it is too bad that Hillside Terrace didn't get to build their extension when they wanted to about 25 years ago.  It would have been preferable, I think, and a quiet addition to the neighborhood.  They may even have left some of the trees.  But they were scared away by some neighbors' objections to a sidewalk. 

Get your questions ready. See you on the 15th.

Mary Cronin

Some history and perspective

It seems there are already many topics to talk about in regard to the Glendale Condominiums.

At first glance, the site plan for Glendale Circle Condominiums seems to be quite nice, and is better than I would have hoped for on this parcel.  I am surprised that the developers didn't opt for more units/more money.  I don't know what the planned price point is (probably more than we would expect, but am guessing somewhere under $300K) but I think it's terrific that someone is building ranch-style condos with attached garages in a west side neighborhood.  As a long-time Virginia Park/West Side resident, and life-long Ann Arborite, and nearing retirement age - - I know that the options to find one-floor, no-steps housing in this part of town is extremely difficult and very, very limited.  There are many folks that would like to buy or remain in our older, near town neighborhoods - - even though their health, age, or disabilities may/will require bedroom-bath-laundry on a ground floor.

The prevailing reason for the addition to my own home in 2005 was exactly that.  There are a number of attractive and small condo communities nearby (Allen Creek, Tulip Tree, Walnut Heights, Parkside Commons, Old Orchard, Liberty Heights, Ridgewood), but almost all of them are two-story, with very few offering a first floor bedroom, bath, or laundry - - or no-step living.

As a real estate broker for over 25 years, I've had countless clients that would have been eager and excited to buy one of these proposed condos - - mostly for the reasons above.  I don't know the owner, the developer, or any of the principals involved (wouldn't know Mr. Starman if I saw him), so I have no vested interest in this development - - other than that it's possible I may bring buyers to the development.

All that being said, a few pieces of random info or comments:

(1) The development as proposed seems to be quite low density.  It's likely that this parcel would allow for twice the number of units and up to 2-1/2 stories tall.  Could possibly be stacked, apartment-style units - - which would be more likely to attract absentee owners and student renters.  I'm relieved that the proposed units are one-story, which IMO would have much less neighborhood impact and a less "towering" appearance.
(2) I did talk briefly with Susan Bowers of Bowers and Associates (the name and number on the postcard).  As I had thought, Susan thinks the target buyers will be empty nesters and single parent families or single professionals.  Each two-bedroom unit will have about 1300 square feet, a full unfinished basement, first floor laundry, attached one-car garage.  The exteriors will be Hardi-Plank siding and some ledgestone (Hardi-Plank is approved by our historical commission).
(3) The majority of the property is zoned R4B, and has been for many years (25 or more?).  A small portion of the southern most property, which contains the present two rental homes (one behind the other), are zoned R1D - - which I assume the developer will ask to be rezoned to R4B.  [See Zoning Section of this Blog for further details.]
(4 ) The two homes to be torn down are likely solid and worthy of restoration ( I like them, but always wondered how one home came to built in the backyard of the other ?).
(5) I think that Hillside Terrace (the retirement/nursing home) had at one time owned all of this property for possible future expansion.  I think they sold it to Starman in 2003.
(6) It seems that parking is adequate.  I doubt if many folks would park on the street - don't know why they would since they can park in their garage or in front of their garage door - which is usually the case with many other condos like this.  The number of 2-car owners might be offset by the number of owners who are bikers-walkers-infrequent car users (which would likely be the profile of many interested buyers).  So likely on a day-to-day basis, the proposed parking would be sufficient - - but if anyone is having a party or large gathering, parking could/would be problem.  (Same problem for all of us, I suppose - - with parking limited to one side of most streets, the guests of anyone having a party usually take up most available street parking for several blocks.)
(7) I haven't checked with the county treasurer, but it's possible that the owner MAY be current on all his property taxes.  The city tax site would NOT show late payments made to the county rather than the city treasurer.  At some point after taxes are past due, the city turns them over to the county for collection.  Some businesses make a practice of doing this, figuring they are better off paying the penalty and interest.  Not a good practice IMO, but it's done frequently nevertheless.
(8) On the postcard, I don't see a water catchment basin either, so I'll be interested to see a larger, more-detailed plan that will hopefully be available at the meeting.  It would be hard to imagine that some provisions haven't been made for this, since the city is very stringent in this area.  I've seen much smaller residential or business developments that have been required to have on-site water run-off basins.
(9) The condos/townhomes on Montgomery near Bemidji were/are a different situation altogether.  Different zoning - - and all 4 to 6 new condos (which essentially replaced 4 or 5 older duplexes) comprise a total land area equal to about 1/4 or 1/5 the size of the Glendale property - - so the density there is about the same or more than Glendale.
Sue Perry

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Project Grow Garden and Pedestrian Path

I am concerned about a couple of things:
1) Will the condos affect the Project Grow garden in any way?
2) There is a path that has been used by pedestrians for many years.  It connects the two blocks of Charlton where the street dead ends.  Basically is goes up the driveway of the house on the hill and through the forsythia hedge.  I'm hoping that the fact that it has been in use for many years will give pedestrians who use it some legal rights, like an easement.
Kathy Boris

Developer Tax Record

Thanks, Lynn.  I thought it would be helpful to know about the developer's history, so I looked up some public information.  The owner is Jeffrey Starman of Madison Property Co., founder of Arch Realty that owns/manages lots of student properties:

Here is some information from public records about the property:

Note that 2012 property taxes have not been paid:

And info on some of the owner's other properties (note that both Helen and Jeffrey Starman list the same address):

Taxes are also overdue on several other properties:

Thanks, Lynn - we'll be at the meeting.



They are single car many people in 2 bedroom townhomes do you think will have only one car? Can't wait to add another 16 cars worth of street parking!! Also, this construction will begin around the same time that they bring Jackson Rd. down to a single lane in each direction with a left-turn lane down the middle. Odds are good that the additional traffic will hustle down Abbott (no stop signs) to avoid the speed bumps on Glendale & enter the 2 lane zone that begins from Virginia/Jackson toward downtown. The MDOT study was completed before the proposed building project. Another concern I have is that of permeable surfaces. We are going to lose an orchard (fairly permeable) and gain rooftops and concrete driveways (impermeable). There is no proposed drainage catchment for the site, and I sit at the lowest part of the street:) See you at the meeting!!!! Gretchen Hahn