A2D2 guidelines likely to be revised to include mandatory review process
Several residents spoke out at tonight's public hearing on the proposed A2D2 design guidelines for downtown Ann Arbor, telling the City Council the guidelines lack teeth if they aren't mandatory.
"If these will be meaningful at all, there should be a real review process," said Ann Arbor resident Peter Nagourney, who lives at 914 Lincoln Ave.
Nagourney said he's been impressed with the work the city has put into the A2D2 process. But he questioned the evolution of the guidelines that have led them to become voluntary at this point.
"Saying that you're going to have guidelines and making them voluntary makes this just a waste of everyone's time," he said. "I hope you will go back to the original intention and institute the guidelines that everyone would like to see and make sure that there is some teeth to them."
Mayor John Hieftje said tonight it sounds like residents and city officials are in agreement.
Hieftje said he has been in discussions with several council members who agree the legislation to adopt the design guidelines should be revised. The revisions would include a provision for a panel of experts and residents that serve as a review board with a mandatory review process, he said.
Hieftje said that was the original intention of city officials when they decided to create the guidelines.
"We had always envisioned a mandatory process and a review board that would review developments," he said.
Tonight's public hearing was not required, but city officials said they wanted more public input. Eleven residents spoke at the hearing, which will continue on Oct. 19.
The A2D2 downtown design guidelines, as well as new zoning and parking amendments, are currently set to be adopted on Oct. 19.
City officials say final adoption of new historic district design guidelines will soon follow after adoption of the downtown design guidelines.
Hieftje said there's no hurry to approve the A2D2 guidelines, so the issue could even carry over into the City Council's first meeting in November if needed.
The City Council established the Ann Arbor Discovering Downtown initiative in 2006 to implement the high-priority recommendations of the Downtown Development Strategies Project. After years of work and dozens of public meetings, many components of the initiative are nearing fruition.
According to the city's Web site, the A2D2 design guidelines are intended to "encourage high-quality building design, prioritize the pedestrian experience, complement the recommended overlay zones, clearly illustrate the goals and standards for each requirement while being as objective as possible and promote green building technologies."
Ryan J. Stanton covers government for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at email@example.com or 734-623-2529.