Ypsilanti Citizen News Sidetrack

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

Water Street zoning approved

This plan for Water Street, which sets two zoning districts for the plot, was approved on first reading by City Council Tuesday. Photo by City of Ypsilanti

This plan for Water Street, which sets two zoning districts for the plot, was approved on first reading by City Council Tuesday.
Ypsilanti Farmers Market

Split decision by Council sets guidelines for development

By Dan DuChene
Mar. 18, 2009    ·    1:49 a.m.

In a split decision, Ypsilanti City Council voted to pass an ordinance to amend the zoning for Water Street Tuesday night.

Approved on its first reading, the ordinance establishes two types of zoning and aims for urban-style development, with commercial zoning along Michigan Avenue and residential inside the 38 acre site.

Parks and trails will surround the exterior of the site along the river.

Councilmembers Bill Nickels, D-Ward 2; Michael Bodary, D-Ward 2; Brian Robb, D-Ward 3 and Mayor Paul Schreiber voted in favor of the ordinance. Mayor Pro Tem Trudy Swanson, D-Ward 1, was not present at the meeting.

Voting against, councilmembers Lois Richardson, D-Ward 1, and Peter Murdock, D-Ward 3, voiced concern with the specific guidelines established by the two zoning districts on the long stalled development project.

“I just don’t want to see us pass any ordinance that is going to limit the developers who are going to come our way,” Richardson said at the meeting.

City Planner Richard Murphy said the new zoning map limits the amount of parking and sets a three floor minimum for structures in the proposed commercial zone. He said the zoning will create an urban environment to compliment Ypsilanti’s two established downtown districts.

“Our whole object is trying to get developers to come in,” Richardson said. “Why set up these kinds of limitations?”

Murphy said the zoning establishes a guideline for developers interested in building on Water Street. He said changes could be made to the zoning through variances passed by Council in order to remain flexible with building ideas.

“It’s not so much saying here’s the only thing we want to see, it’s saying here are the things we’d like to see,” Murphy said during his presentation to Council.

The new zoning map, which lays out a rough idea of where parcels and streets would be located, would be used to give developers brought in by brokerage firm C.B. Richard Ellis an idea of what the city hopes to see in the future. He said the zoning would be used as a starting place for site plan negotiation.

“We do have things we would like to see,” Murphy said. “We haven’t completely given up caring about what happens to the site.”

A conversation between Robb and Murphy focused on the fast food restaurant interested in building on the site. Robb asked if a single-story drive-thru would meet the zoning requirements and prove to be a worth-wile business on the property.

Murphy could not get into specifics because he had not yet seen a site plan for the development. He did say, however, that a single-story drive-thru would not meet the zoning requirements and wouldn’t likely prove to be a worthwhile development on the site.

“I think financially and in terms of quality of development that we can do better,” Murphy said.

Murdock, however, suggested establishing usage when negotiating the site plan with a business, and not establishing zoning districts. He said this would allow the city to be more flexible to developers as the express interest.

Calling the tactic “zoned to suit,” Murdock said the city could control who they choose to sell property to and for what use.

Murphy said this tactic could prove more time consuming for both the city and interested developers.

At the meeting, Bodary said he was in favor of the ordinance because the site already has zoning that is already unfavorable to what the city wants, with manufacturing zones, and said this would be a move in the right direction. However, he said he would still like the city to remain open minded.

Murphy said City Council will see every purchase agreement that comes to staff, and said he did not think seeking variances for zoning would not prove too burdensome to attract potential developers.

Before voting, Robb said he was only voting in favor because this was the first reading. He said he would like to see a presentation at City Council’s next Water Street meeting about different development scenarios and the revenue capabilities for each.

Started in 1999, the city is currently looking at a $31.2 million debt for the project. The first bond payment will be due in November of next year. The two payments due for that fiscal year are estimated at $854,000. Payments will escalate following years, averaging at a $1.44 million payment every year until 2031.

The city currently has nearly $3 million socked away to handle the coming debt payments. Staff said the city will continue this practice until enough taxes are captured from development to pay them directly.

Related stories:
City discusses bright spots for Water Street
Council to dedicate more time to Water Street

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