Neighbors protest; commission delays development
By DAVID CAME NOV 13 1985
NEWS SPECIAL WRITER
After heated public hearings attended by nearly 100 people, the Ann Arbor Planning Commission Tuesday night delayed action on development plans for a parcel near the northwest corner of Huron Parkway and Washtenaw Avenue and a rear parking lot for the Sloan Plaza project on Huron Street.
In both cases, neighborhood groups raised strong objections to a proposed change in the projects, claiming the changes would threaten their neighborhood.
In the first case, the Ann Arbor Hills Home Association and two other neighborhood groups said they oppose a recommendation by the police and fire departments to connect Exmoor Road with Huron Parkway.
With a 47-acre development proposed for the west side of Huron Parkway, police and fire officials cite traffic congestion, public safety and emergency access for vehicles as compelling reasons for the cut-through to Huron Parkway.
The development, proposed by property owner Robert Mills, calls for the construction of 19 single-family dwellings, 42 attached condominiums and three office buildings.
“Collectively we oppose the proposal for a cut through at Exmoor to Huron Parkway,” said Elizabeth Brown, secretary of the Ann Arbor Hills Home Association. Brown said her organization represents 280 single-family homes.
Brown and other neighborhood spokespersons said the proposed connection would cause traffic congestion in their neighborhoods. They said motorists would bypass the busy intersection at Washtenaw and Huron Parkway by turning up Exmoor Road and then cutting up Glenwood Street to reach Washtenaw to the west.
Residents of the neighborhood said the road extension would lead to speeding traffic which would threaten the safety of children, joggers and walkers. And easy access to Huron Parkway would make their neighborhoods more attractive to burglars, they argued.
“The site plan as it now stands doesn’t provide for the Exmoor cut through to Huron Parkway,” stressed Brown. “The builder hasn’t requested it. We are not opposing city annexation or development of the site. We oppose only this one development: the Exmoor cut-through. ”
Ann Arbor Planning Director Martin Overhiser said the city’s engineering and transportation departments are conducting a traffic impact study to determine the need for the recommended road extension to Huron Parkway. He said the planning commission would re-consider zoning and an area plan for the development at a December or January meeting.
In another public hearing, Christine Crockett of the Old Fourth Ward Association said residents of the downtown area oppose the conversion of the backyard of 514 E. Ann St. into a rear parking lot for the Sloan Plaza project on Huron Street.
The lot would accommodate seven parking spaces and is a modification of the original plan for the luxury condominium development.
“We want to make our position clear,” said Crockett. “We are opposed to any intrusion into the historic character of our district. There must be a clear boundary between the Old Fourth Ward Historic District and the Huron Street corridor.”
Crockett said approval of the parking lot would permanently change open space into parking and set a dangerous precedent for future encroachments into the historic district.
The planning commission encouraged the developers - Don Chisholm and Joe O’Neal — to reach a compromise with representatives of the association. One possible compromise calls for construction of a canopy over the parking lot.
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