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Lansky's Junkyard: City Ignores People's Interests

Lansky's Junkyard: City Ignores People's Interests image
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As the Human Rights Party candidate for city council in the Third Ward, I was going to write a statement for the Sun about the city's proposed moving of Lansky's Junkyard from one residential area in the first ward to another in the third ward. The foltowing statement presented to City Council by the president of the Southeast Ann Arbor Council relates the ntial rrforrmtion clearly for people to get an idea of the problem. Since the deliverance of this statement much more information has been made available about the city's plans for that entire area. The city's lies about Lansky's are only a very small part of the backwards way they want the whole southeast area to be developed. Indeed, we can't look at Lansky's as an isolated problem separate from the rest of the the city's proposed poor planning. There is not enough space here to go into the sordid details planned to ruin that and other areas. But there are two other pieces of information that I would like to make people aware of when reading this statement: first, let t be known that when Mrs. Meiswick finished delivering her statementjMayor Harris was cold, insulting, and responded with only a few short sentences of narrowminded misinformation. Secondly, within that response and since then,there have been vicious statements mplying that the Southeast Ann Arbor Council would rather see Lansky's stay where it is than move t next to their proposed parkland. These statements are clearly designed to pit community against community when in reality the Southeast Ann Arbor Council clearly has the same interests as the Summit St. community in seeing that Lansky's or any other such business doesn't get moved near any residential area, and they have tried to make that very clear all along. No matter how far out Democratie or Republican candidates for the coming election may begin to sound during this campaign it is their parties that have made these other plans without very much interest in the people who live in Ann Arbor's neighborhoods. It would be in their interests to sound far out and get elected and then continue with these plans. When the Human Rights Party has seats on Council one of our primary nterests will be to expose all their plans and involve communities in coming up with alternatives. -Genie Plamondon l'd like to start by telling you a little about the S.E. Ann Arbor Council and the areas of main concern to us at the moment. We are a group of concerned residents who are trying to realize a sane growth and development pattern in this area. The organization was started as an angry reaction to the irresponsible planning, and frantic high density build that is taking place, with obvious neglect of our children's need for schooling and living space. Many people move into low income housing long enough to save the money to move into a better neighborhood. This should not have to be the case. The new attitude toward communal living has brought more people to view it as a fine opportunity to raise families, and live in a cooperative atmosphere. However, there are necessary provisions needed to encourage permanence, one being adaquate schooling, another being open space, as the actual living space is quite limited. Like any other community, t must be encouraged to feel that it can take a responsible part in the planning of its own area, thus giving t the sense of pride t deserves. But the S.E. Ann Arbor Council is not just composed of townhouse cooperatives. We also include the active nterests of Georgetown, Spruce Knob, Pine Valley, Stoneybrook, Br jok, Brookside, and the individual housing We are working toward a common goal- seeing to it that the neighborhoods provide our families with the necessary aspects of living that we must have. The Clinton school problem is one of our maín concerns at the moment. The predominently low income units south of 194 have created the problem of unbalance n the school, and the bussing issue need never have arisen if the city planners had been conscientious about building a well balancedcommunity. The figures show that by the time the new school is built, it will be already overcrowded, as more people move into the units that have been made available. I am af raid that these new school plans are being nterpreted as a license to proceed with more buildings. We are strongly opposed to the rezoning of PheasantRun II f rom Agricultural to R4, which would allow 220 more units into the already overcrowded area. We desperately need some relief to allow us the opportunity to provide for the overwhelming needs of the present population. We realize that to survive as an effective, credible organization we cannot be just a negative reaction force, sniping defensivtely at every individual issue. We want to be able to work together with Planning to develop an all-encompassing solution for the S.E. area, and together realize a fine, progressive community. We are willing to work in good faith with the city as long as we can see that the city is working for us. As I mentioned, we feit the need to become organized because we see that to date, the city has not been working with our best nterests in mind. These issues must be resolved. Some of them have progressed so far that obviously a fight must ensue. The one in particular that I would like to bring to you tonight is the relocation of Lansky and Sons to Platt and Ellsworth road. We have been in contact with Mayor Harris and various city officials about this issue, and have not been sjtisfied with the progress. So we feel that it's time to bring the matter to the Council and the public. As yoü know, the city, with HUD, bought land on Platt and Ellsworth road with the understanding that t would be used as parkland. The city has now reneged on its agreement and is about to offer ten acres of the proposed parkland to Lansky as the new location for his junkyard. When HUD was nformed of this, it demanded a letter of justification from the city. In this letter, the city was to answer several questions. The first deals with the feasibility analysis of using other private or cityowned land. 1 ) As to township sites: the city claims that "even when acceptable sites were found, no townships would provide the zoning for a junkyard." In all our conversations with the city, they have never mentioned a single township site which was elimina'ed due to lack of zoning. We challenge them to give details. 2) City owned land: It is ironie that the city eliminates seven of the nine potential city-owned sites on the basis that "they were all purchased with HUD grants for park and open space purposes." The same consideration applies to the proposed location on Platt! Shouldn't they eliminate ft f rom consideration for that very reason? The city airport land is unsuitable partially because of "unstable soils"- how could any soil be more unstable than a former landfill? 3) Private owned land within the city: let me say that this part of the report is dreadfully incomplete, as their investigation into the available land was incomplete. A realtor who was given the responsibility by the city of researching available land was told of over 20 acres zoned M2Jwhich we feit could be quite suitable. This was in December. Yet he made no mention of these possibilities to the city or indicated in any way that investigations had been made into them. The letter of justificaron went to HUD in February, so he certainly had plenty of time. It seems obvious that the reason is simply money, not "desirability of location," which is eliminating all these other sites. The city is paying Lansky $45,000 for his Vi acre Summit street site. Because that site will be used as a park for Model Cities, 50% of the 45 will come from HUD, 30% from State park funds, and 20% from the City park funds. Lansky then will pay the city $45,000 for the 6 acres on Platt. (HUD, incidentally is to pay for the moving bill as well.) The city then pockets the entire $45,000 for its Capital funds, and uses it to prepare the 10 acres for the junkyard. In other words, it has milked HUD of $22,500, to which we have no particular objection, and has released $22,500 from the park funds, to which we most strongly object. Money generated for proposed parks, or designated as park funds should be spent for that specific purpose. Although this reflects brilliance on the part of the city, it's a pretty sneaky way to bilk the citizens of Ann Arbor out of money they had designated for park funds. And as for the S.E. area, we are robbed of 10 acres of parkland. The city's only responsibility to HUD is to desígnate "an equivalent site" anywhere in the city for parkland. I wonder if we will see any of it in our area. HUD also asked why the city had to give Lansky 6 acres to replace his V acre on Summit street. The city argües that the zoning restriction for Lansky is M2 (heavy industry) and requires a 70f30 ratio open space to building. The city indicates he now has 72,992 square feet of building space. So to give him a correct ratio in the new site, a total of 243,230 square feet is needed, which is a little under 6 acres. These figures are totally wrong. The total building area is not 72,992, but roughly 13,000. This would lead us to believe that, using the city's own logic, Lansky would need little in excess of one acre for his new site. We understand that any company is going to want the opportunity to expand as it moves. When Lansky sells his Main street site to the city, he'll get an additional four acres in the landfill. So we are swapping six acres for % acre, or ten acres for two, depending on how fiar into the future you look. This does seem a bit too charitable on the part of the city. The city has to assure HUD that the public will be provided with proper shielding from the junkyard site. The extra four acres is to be used as a natural buffer and beautiful landscaping will be done. Con sidering Landky's numerous code violations as he operates in the middle of the city, how can we possibly accept in good faith the city's assurances that it will be any more vigilant with the new site? We see our área being used as a dumping ground for those unpleasant businesses that a city must have. But this is not an industrial area. It is a high density residential area! How in the world can we expect to have an economie balance in our schools; how can we attract higher income housing n the S.E. area, if all we can offer are crowded schoolsa dump, and a junkyard? It appears to us that the city has found a way to put $45,000 into its capital fund, and isn't the least concerned with the resultant effect on our neighborhoods. We realize that it must go somewhere, and as I pointed out, there are areas that the city has refused to even investígate. We suggest that the best way to avoid further deception is to have a public hearing, chaired by someone from HUD, and located in our area. This will allow direct responses and tend to encoqrage honesty. We appeal to members of the council to help us resolve this problem, and thereby avoid the alternative of legal action. Respectfully, President Southeast Ann Arbor Council