Ypsilanti Citizen News Lincoln Schools

City Council approves all mayor's re-appointments
By Dan DuChene
Jun. 16, 2010   ·   3:42 a.m.

Jone Coleman, president of downtown business LookInTheAttic, shares his thoughts with City Council about the discussion and procedure taken to pass mayoral re-appointments, which he was being considered for the Downtown Development Authority.

After much procedure, Ypsilanti City Council approved six mayoral re-appointments to city boards and committees Tuesday, including the two postponed from earlier...read more

Council postpones two reappointments
By Mark Tower
Jun. 4, 2010   ·   4:57 p.m.

Two of Ypsilanti's volunteer board members were not reappointed on schedule Tuesday night, owing to a 4-2 vote by City Council to delay the appointments until...read more

Downtown properties to be rehabilitated
By Mark Tower
Jun. 4, 2010   ·   10:40 a.m.

The three properties located at 120, 122 and 124 West Michigan Avenue in downtown Ypsilanti will soon be rebuilt into commercial and office space and loft apartments, thanks to a planned $1.7 million investment by developers.

Three recently-vacated properties in downtown Ypsilanti, two of them condemned, will soon be renovated owing to recent purchase by a local development company and...read more

Ypsilanti Township authorizes litigation against Liberty Square
By Mark Tower
May. 28, 2010   ·   6:53 p.m.

Many of the homes in the Liberty Square complex on Grove Street in Ypsilanti Township are already boarded and ready for foreclosure sale. All 151 units, some of which are still occupied, will be condemned Tuesday, Ypsilanti Township has resolved.

Residents living in the Liberty Square complex of townhouses will see a sticker appear on their homes Tuesday, when the Ypsilanti Township Building Department places...read more

Ford plant granted tax exemption by township
By Mark Tower
May. 24, 2010   ·   5:44 p.m.

Ford Motor Company's Rawsonville Plan, located at the intersection of Textile and Bridge Roads in Ypsilanti Township, will soon be the new home for production of Ford's Electric Focus batteries, formerly produced in Mexico.

New machines and equipment will soon be wheeled into Ford's Rawsonville Plant in Ypsilanti Township as it begins manufacturing a line of batteries for the new global...read more

Down-zoning ordinance upheld

City Planner Richard Murphy addresses City Council on a change to the down-zoning ordinance Tuesday night. The proposal, which would have given leeway to foreclosure purchases, was voted down. Photo by Dan DuChene

City Planner Richard Murphy addresses City Council on a change to the down-zoning ordinance Tuesday night. The proposal, which would have given leeway to foreclosure purchases, was voted down.

Changes proposed by Beal in light of foreclosures rejected by Council

By Dan DuChene
Feb. 18, 2009    ·    2:55 a.m.

City Council voted down an ordinance that would have allowed staying off down-zoning rules in Ypsilanti neighborhoods to encourage renovations in blighted houses.

The decision was made at Tuesday night’s meeting in a 4-3 vote, with Mayor Paul Schreiber, Mayor Pro-Tem Trudy Swanson, D-Ward 1, and Councilmember Bill Nickels, D-Ward 2, dissenting.

Local developer Stewart Beal requested to have the city change its ordinance requiring multifamily properties in single-family zoning districts that become abandoned, discontinued, removed, destroyed or severely damaged to conform to the down-zoning.

Beal’s company, Beal Properties, recently purchased four foreclosed properties in Ypsilanti. Two of them, located in multifamily-zoned areas, are remodeled and have residents living in them. However, the other two are located in down-zoned areas where the rule would require him to renovate the properties as single-family homes.

He said the change to the city’s down-zoning ordinance would bring use to foreclosed and vacant homes as single families are not attracted to the properties due to the cost to purchase and renovate the homes. He said allowing purchasers of foreclosed homes the ability to renovate without down-zoning will help fight blight in neighborhoods despite the poor housing market.

Beal said he plans to change the wording in his request and resubmit it to City Council.

“We’re kind of caving in,” Councilmember Lois Richardson, D-Ward 1, said. “We should not let desperation determine our future.”

Richardson said there were good reasons for the down-zoning in Ypsilanti neighborhoods. She said desperation has motivated City Council decisions in the past.

“Some of them have really turned out to be bad decisions,” she said.

Schreiber presented the issue as choice between allowing renovation for blighted homes now and waiting until the economic situation passes.

“I’ll support it based on the idea it doesn’t ruin down-zoning,” Nickels said. “What we get for a slowing effect is an opportunity to improve some of these houses.”

City Planner Richard Murphy presented the new language as a compromise between the effects of the increasing foreclosures and the desire to down-zone city neighborhoods.

Councilmember Peter Murdock, D-Ward 3, pointed to the help the city gave developers in establishing Peninsular Place for student housing in order to attract them away from homes south of the university, which would convert the apartments to single-family homes. He said this was always the goal for the down-zoning.

Murdock said the down-zoning would cause some multifamily homes to go vacant for a while, until they are converted to single-family homes. He said allowing this change would appear to give Beal special treatment.

“It’s kind of like an after the fact kind of thing,” Murdock said.

Beal said he knew the development risk from the zoning law when he purchased the properties.

“I thought City Council would decide on the side of bettering the city,” he said after the meeting.

Beal pointed to a discussion City Council had on adding in a sunset clause that would cause the legislation to expire or require City Council to revisit the matter after time. He said this could be added to the request he submits.

With no single-family dwellings in a two block radius, he said one of the homes, located at Ballard and Emmet streets, is in an area that will likely remain student housing no matter the city’s down-zoning efforts.

He drew on information provided by Murphy, which said more than thirty foreclosure purchases could go undeveloped because of down-zoning rules. Beal said other area developers are concerned with this, and may become involved.

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