You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 5:56 a.m.

Maple Cove apartments project goes to Ann Arbor City Council for final approval

By Ryan J. Stanton

Planning _Commission_060512_RJS.jpg

From left to right, Ann Arbor Planning Commissioners Wendy Woods, Diane Giannola and Erica Briggs listen to a speaker voice concerns about the Maple Cove project Tuesday night.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Ann Arbor planning commissioners expressed regret Tuesday night that they had little choice but to approve the controversial Maple Cove apartments project.

"I'm disappointed we have to approve this project tonight," said Commissioner Erica Briggs. "I think there are a lot of problems with it, but I don't see a way around it."

Before voting 6-0 to forward the project to the Ann Arbor City Council for final consideration, multiple commissioners voiced concerns that the project falls short of their expectations and expressed disappointment in the developer for not being more cooperative.

As they had done at previous meetings, commissioners continued to voice concerns about potential safety risks posed by a lack of sidewalks, which some fear could force children to walk in the street, and having two driveways close together on Maple Road.

"This project is not all it could have been," said Commission Chairman Eric Mahler, suggesting the developer failed to address issues like some safety concerns.


Resident Minda Hart speaks out about her concerns with the Maple Cove project before the Planning Commission Tuesday night.

Ryan J. Stanton |

According to Planning Manager Wendy Rampson, the developer doesn't have to address those issues and the project meets city code as it stands now.

Property owner Muayad Kasham, who owns Superior Lawn Care & Snow Removal in Ann Arbor, wants to demolish an existing home and construct two 18-unit, three-story apartment buildings and seven single-family homes, as well as a 64-space parking lot. Site plans for the apartment buildings include 12 one-bedroom units and 24 two-bedroom units.

Rampson said if in the future the proximity of the two driveways causes a conflict with vehicles moving in and out, or with the intersection, the city's traffic engineer could then make a decision on closing one of the drives based on that situation.

"But it cannot be pre-assumed that it is going to be a problem," she said.

Several residents have spoken against the project, voicing concerns it doesn't fit the character of the neighborhood and it might increase traffic and exacerbate stormwater runoff issues. Only two residents spoke out at Tuesday's final meeting, though.

Immediately following the vote, one of the residents followed Jamie Gorenflo of Midwestern Consulting, a representative of the developer, through the hallway, shouting and cursing at him as Senior Assistant City Attorney Kevin McDonald tried to intervene.

Commissioners Bonnie Bona, Evan Pratt and Kirk Westphal were absent.

Minda Hart, who lives on Calvin Street near the project, said she doesn't think the city or the developer did enough to consult residents on the project.

Hart said she has lived on the street for 18 years and some of her neighbors have lived there for as many as 47 years.

"We are not a transient street," she said, later adding: "This is way too many homes for this amount of area."

Briggs said she doesn't expect larger issues like density to be addressed, but she sees no reason why the developer can't work out some of the smaller issues. She said it's unfortunate the project will go forward with animosity in the neighborhood.

She and Commissioner Wendy Woods encouraged the developer to show some willingness to compromise and move forward in good faith.

Despite the project's shortcomings, Commissioner Tony Derezinski said the site where the development will occur could use some improvement.

The commission on March 20 held a public hearing and voted 6-2 in favor of the Maple Cove project, but city officials forgot to send required notices of the meeting to some residents. The project came back to the commission last month but a final vote was postponed then.


The location of the Maple Cove project.

Courtesy of City of Ann Arbor

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


Marvin Face

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 7:03 p.m.

Most of the surrounding homes of this development, and specifically all that are on the west side of Calvin are located in Scio Township. I don't believe residents living in Scio Township have a voice in this Ann Arbor matter.

Lets Get Real

Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 12:19 p.m.

But they get to suffer the consequences of the project imposed on them, don't they?

Basic Bob

Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 3:04 a.m.

They can annex their property to the city, pay for all the utility upgrades, and then theoretically have a voice in city business. Practically, the result will be the same.

Ellis Sams

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 3:44 p.m.

Consider this a residual benefit of City Place. The project was always fully compliant with all codes and regulations. Some neighbors complained about it and that was enough to have some commission members scrambling to find a reason to reject it and then lamenting their inability to do more for the neighbors. Sadly for them, the builder had done everything required to make the project fly. Rather than repeat the silliness of City Place, they followed their mandate and approved the project. It is always heartening to see a public commission do its job.

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

It is unfortunate that the developer meets all of the guidelines and that the Ann Arbor Planning Commissioners have no teeth to put a stop to this silly proposal. Neighbors get ready for one noisy and ugly apartment building that will quickly turn into a section 8 housing and degrade our neighborhood. I bet Muayad Kasham doesn't care what goes on his property as long as he can cash out and I don't blame him one bit. However, stringent laws governing housing codes and zoning rules could have prevented this development.


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 4:42 p.m.

The Planning Commission had no choice but to approve it, since it didn't violate any laws. If they denied the project, the city would face a lawsuit, have to spend money to defend themselves in the lawsuit, and they would lose because they have no grounds for denying the project.

Jim Osborn

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 11:10 a.m.

"city officials forgot to send required notices of the meeting to some residents." Are they incompetent, or was this deliberate? I'd hate to have this in my neighborhood. The zoning laws are strange in Ann Arbor, but do need to be respected. But, they should be changed to protect others from such travesties. What could be next? A "green" battery manufacturer? Please educate me. Is the planning commission elected, or appointed by the city council, the mayor, or by an administrator?

Lets Get Real

Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 12:18 p.m.

Let's see - a "green" battery manufacturer - how would that be defined. Under the definitions being given before congress this week where garbage collectors, a used record store clerk, and someone who works at the Salvation Army Store are considered "Green Jobs", it could be anything that manufactures or stores energy producing material - like animal waste? Isn't that what we are talking about here anyway - it is all just a big bunch of human droppings. Just listen, ""I'm disappointed we have to approve this project tonight.." Erica, since when does the city "have" to do anything? What a bunch of BS


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 12:39 p.m.

I'm sure they are 100% appointed. But would you REALLY trust the vote counts in a local ann arbor election either?

Peter Konigsberg

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 10:38 a.m.

THe planning commission is not set up to help the citizens of Ann Arbor. Its set up to streamline development and minimize the ability of home owners to complain or have ant impact on a project. With little over site on the ability of those involved after the decision has been made. My neighborhood has project that we opposed for the same reasons to large for the sounding homes. It is a 45,000 square foot church school building that now appears to be unable to be does the planning commission and Mrs Woods feel about that? She pushed that project on us and now how is it going to be finished? There has been one man there for over four months! How about some communication from you Mrs Woods to those who surround the Second Baptist Church project? We would like the same consideration you expected for these residents.

Chip Reed

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 10:35 a.m.

Are Calvin and Woodrow even in the city? The residents grade the road themselves with an antique horse-drawn grader pulled behind a pickup truck (a harbinger of smaller government and reduced services?).


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

I'm not sure they are in the city. There are a number of township pockets inside the city and typically these have unpaved streets. If you look at the Washtenaw County GIS maps (, other than this developer's property, it looks like only the one property to the north is actually in the city. Most, if not all of the others in this wedge appear to be in the township. Ryan?

Jim Osborn

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 11:13 a.m.

Ann Arbor has many dirt roads, some off or Packard near Stadium. They get rough and get infrequent care. I'd guess that these folks use what they have to fill in potholes inbetween the city or county coming by. I douby that the new residents will chip in to help, but will speed up the wear.

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 10:28 a.m.

"The commission on March 20 held a public hearing and voted 6-2 in favor of the Maple Cove project, but city officials forgot to send required notices of the meeting to some residents." The City 'forgot'.

Lets Get Real

Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 12:07 p.m.

Wonder how the city would feel if I "forgot" to send my water bill or my property taxes. Really competent public servants we've got working at the city.

Peter Konigsberg

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 11:54 a.m.

This also happened to to our neighborhood as we objected to a project.

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 10:26 a.m.

"Minda Hart, who lives on Calvin Street near the project, said she doesn't think the city or the developer did enough to consult residents on the project." Your mistake, Ms. Hart was not living on the Old West Side or Burns Park or downtown. Then Ms. Woods and her buddies would have taken better care of your concerns.

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 10:24 a.m.

So Wendy Woods--love your definition of 'hardball'. No wonder people distrust politicians: Maybe if you hadn't played your silly little bad mouthing games earlier the developer would take some of your suggestions more seriously. So, your 'outrage' was just cheap political theater after all.