University of Michigan soccer complex annexation gets approval from Ann Arbor Planning Commission
The Ann Arbor Planning Commission voted 8-0 tonight in favor of annexing 12.5 acres of property into the city limits.
The move will help the University of Michigan build a new soccer stadium on South Main Street within the next year and hook it up to the city's water and sewer utilities.
The proposal now goes to the City Council with a unanimous recommendation for approval.
Jill Thacher of the city's planning department said at the start of tonight's meeting that the soccer complex isn't consistent with the city's Master Plan. That plan recommends using the site for residential dwellings and neighborhood parkland.Â
But by zoning the site "public land," the university will be allowed to continue to use it for soccer, she said.Â U-M currently has two practice fields and a competitive field on the site.
Planning Commissioner Wendy Woods asked city staff whether the surrounding homeowners were notified of U-M's proposal and whether they had any concerns.
Thacher said residents were notified by mail, and only one property owner responded with input. She said the resident had concerns about the lack of access to the site from South Main Street and about problems with people parking at the Busch's grocery store across the street and walking to the soccer complex for games.
Thacher agreed that's not safe and probably isn't good for business for the retailer.
Jim Kosteva, director of community relations for U-M, appeared before the commission to say the university has no plans to expand parking. He said the university intends to continue to steer people toward accessing the site from South State Street.Â
Kosteva said adequate parking is available at the nearby tennis and gymnastics complex there, as well as a nearby park-and-ride lot.
Planning Commissioner Jean Carlberg said she was concerned families with children who live near the field would be disturbed by night games. She encouraged the university to monitor noise levels.
Kosteva said there are about 15 to 20 men's and women's home soccer games each year, and a little more than a third are night games. He said preliminary site work for the new complex already has begun, and it should be constructed by next September to accommodate next fall's schedule.
The soccer complex is located on the east side of South Main Street, south of Ann Arbor Saline Road.
Kosteva admitted tonight the university was caught by surprise that the property, originally platted in Pittsfield Township, was never incorporated into the city limits.
U-M unveiled an architectural rendering in September showing its plans for a $6 million soccer stadium. The design by Jickling Lyman Powell Associates Inc. was approved by the university's Board of Regents in June. It calls for a 20,000-square-foot building with seating for 1,800.
The university wants to connect to city utilities to provide restrooms and other amenities for the new soccer stadium to be constructed around the competition field.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at email@example.com or 734-623-2529.