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Posted on Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Ypsilanti mayor voices support for proposed Washtenaw Avenue tax-capturing district

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber voiced his support for the Washtenaw Avenue Corridor Improvement Authority Monday night at a public hearing before the Ann Arbor City Council.

"I think it's something that's really worth consideration," Schreiber told council members. "Washtenaw Avenue is really the lifeline between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, and it certainly could use some improvement. It needs some walkability improvements, bike-ability improvements and also public transportation improvements."


Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber showed up at Monday night's Ann Arbor City Council meeting to voice support for the Washtenaw Avenue Corridor Improvement Authority.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor are two of four communities exploring the idea of forming a joint corridor improvement authority together, along with Pittsfield and Ypsilanti townships.

It would essentially be a special tax-capturing improvement zone that would help fund redevelopment along the corridor, which spans the four communities and has been the focus of the ongoing Reimagining Washtenaw Avenue corridor study project.

"If all four communities want to do this, we can get together and show the state that we're working together," Schreiber said.

Under the state's Corridor Improvement Authority Act of 2005, local municipalities are allowed to set up authorities that use tax-increment financing to make capital improvements within an established commercial district. The act allows communities that already have downtown development authorities to extend similar benefits to aging commercial corridors.

"I know there are some people worried about a TIF or what it's going to cost," Schreiber said, referring to the capture of taxes. He said it could be structured in a way so each taxing unit realizes "the least amount of pain and also some good investment'' in the community.

"The TIF could be levied against only new investment and new construction — or even partially against new construction, so as that construction occurs and the property values go up, part of that would go through to the municipality," he said.

Schreiber said an authority overseeing redevelopment along Washtenaw Avenue could streamline the zoning and permitting process for the entire corridor.

No action was taken Monday night. Ann Arbor's planning staff said in a memo to council that it will continue to collect feedback and information. Staff intends to arrange a special council working session later this year to provide a summary and to ask for direction.

The city has released a 58-page document titled "Washtenaw Avenue Corridor Redevelopment Strategy."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Wed, Mar 9, 2011 : 1:33 p.m.

Sally, Washtenaw Ave. is home to hundreds of businesses and residences, particularly low-income residences in Ypsilanti Township. Whether people have to or choose too, many people walk and bike down Washtenaw every day already. Making it easier to do so would allow more people to walk or bike, relieving congestion, and allowing you to drive comfortably down Washtenaw with less inconvenience. It's true that Washtenaw Ave. is atrocious for biking and walking. What you fail to realize is that this is by design; it is not an essential feature of Washtenaw Ave. Improving its accessibility to non-motorized and public transportation will make life better for everyone, even if you personally don't care about people without cars.


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 3:06 p.m.

God Help Me, I agree with Ghost.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 4:24 p.m.

Bragg, ROFL. I guess one of us must be the proverbial stopped clock? Good Night and Good Luck


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 3:48 p.m.

Welcome to the dark side, braggslaw! :)


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 3:03 p.m.

"Schreiber said an authority overseeing redevelopment along Washtenaw Avenue could streamline the zoning and permitting process for the entire corridor." So, how does adding yet another layer of bureaucracy streamline the process?


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 2:50 p.m.

Wait a sec. Don't we have a downtown to support? Why are we paying tax dollars to develop a road out of town? Of course the mayor of Ypsilanti is in favor, but it does not seem to be in Ann Arbor's best interests. I don't want to contribute to this, and I think that our tax dollars are already stretched, are they not?


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 2:18 p.m.

Every time I read about improving the Washtenaw Ave corridor between Ypsi and A2, and it needs improvement, I hear the ideas of walkability, bike-ability and public transit improvements. Walking along Washtenaw Ave? Sure, if you enjoy walking along a road with 4 lanes of heavy congestion and idling cars spewing fumes at intersections, walking long distances with your new purchase from Bed Bath and Beyond or K Mart, passing those scenic gas stations, some abandoned, and walking along large, ugly parking lots filled with litter and pan handlers. Biking along Washtenaw Ave? Sure, if you don't mind trash and junk strewn along the edge of the road, potholes that can swallow your bike, and once again, 4 lanes of heavy congestion all times of the day and night. I wouldn't bike along Washtenaw under any conditions. Public Transit? If they keep cutting AATA routes between Ypsi and A2, there won't be any mass transit left between the 2 cities. This is a car route, not a walking or bike route. Stop spending money on things that make no sense for this major auto corridor. Fix the roads (fill the potholes, clean the debris, plow when snow covered) and clean up the massive parking lots, including getting rid of the pan handlers. Fix the potholes in the parking lots. Fix the entrance and exit to Arborland, both of which are terrible. Fix the parking spaces in the huge parking lot in front of Whole Foods and Barnes and Noble. Those spaces are designed for Cooper minis and are filled with SUVs and trucks. Small cars even get their doors dinged when parking there. It's irresponsible design. Get rid of the abandoned buildings strewn along Washtenaw from Trader Joes to the water tower in Ypsi. There are plenty of them. Reinstate the AATA bus routes that have been cut. Do all of these things first before even thinking about doing anything else to what has become a rotting, dirty and congestion-filled corridor.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 4:29 p.m.

It is not bike and pedestrian friendly because it has not been designed to be so. There are many, many examples of pedestrian and bike friendly corridors throughout this nation that exist safely side-by-side with high volume automobile traffic. Good Night and Good Luck

joe golder

Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 3:59 p.m.

We have been in a huge fight with MDOT, City of Ypsi and EMU. These people are in denial. I have lived with Washtenaw rd and EMU main entrance 15' from my house going on 11 years. They are getting ready to add a lane on Oakwood making it 5 lns and a rt turn on Washtenaw aimed right at my home making it 6 lns. This would not be acceptable anywhere, but my neighbors and my pleas are going unheard. When I hear the mayor of Ypsi speak about walk ability and bike lanes I have a good laugh. There are no plans for either with the CMACQ grant being spent ($450,000.00). In fact they are bringing mayhem even closer to my front door. 4 cars have crashed into my property feet from my home. A pedestrian was hit a few weeks ago. I live with the problems you mentioned everyday. In my situation they are using much needed tax dollars to load and unload cars into EMU and making things even more unhealthy and dangerous for anyone using this intersection. There is nothing residential about Washtenaw corridor.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 1:56 p.m.

I like the headline, because it describes the situation EXACTLY. As is true of the DDA and all other "authorities", the proposed "authority" on Washtenaw development "captures" taxes. How does it do that, you ask? All taxing entities within the boundaries of the proposed authority are required to send a % of their tax revenue to the "capturing" authority. Money that YOU think is going to AAPS, to the AADL, to the YDL, to WCC, to YPS, to WISD, and to other "tax collectors" will instead be sent to the Washtenaw Corridor DA (if it is created). It indeed "captures" taxes. And the best part? Its board will consist of people appointed, not elected, to serve in those positions. Some might be people elected to serve in other positions like the A2 city council, but not a single person on the DA will be elected specifically to serve in that position, and numerous of the board members will not have been elected to any position--they will not in any way, shape, or form be responsible to the taxpayers. This board will have authority to spend tax money that was meant for other agencies, and the voters of Washtenaw County will have absolutely no recourse if this "tax capturing" authority takes steps they don't like. Is the Washtenaw Corridor a mess? Yes. Does something need to be done? Yes. But this is not the way to do it. The ELECTED officials of Ann Arbor, of Ypsilanti, and of Pittsfield Township need to get together and to formulate a plan, one into which residents and businesses have significant input. And if they blow it, they should reap the political consequences. Yet another "tax capturing" authority that is not accountable to anyone, least of all the voters, is NOT the way to do this. Good Night and Good Luck

joe golder

Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 3:41 p.m.

Great points!