Friday, February 01, 2008

Ann Arbor Urban Development

Found an interesting article out of Ann Arbor, Michigan (City Motto: "Gateway to Washtenaw County"), in which the City Council rejected plans from two developers following resident complaints and now a City Council member wants to make consulting with neighbors more than a recommendation for developers: :

[City Council Member Sabra] Briere's proposal would require developers to notify any residents within 1,000 feet of a project. That would mean providing a complete description of the project as well as information about how to express concerns about it. The petitioner would then provide a report at least seven days prior to a Planning Commission public hearing.

The report would list all the details of meetings that were held and concerns expressed by residents. The developer would list what steps would be taken to address residents' concerns. If developers aren't willing to address some concerns, they would have to explain why.
It's an interesting theory, and one that plays into the goings on in the Hill District/Northshore. While this may be seen as a big headache and cost for developers upfront, it may pay dividends in the long run. As one of the interviewees in the article states, "Realistically, the developer is going to have to [engage the community] ahead of time or play catch-up afterwards."

It is important to note that the Ann Arbor proposal does not bind the developers to addressing the needs of the neighborhood, but rather it documents the process of engaging the residents. There will, of course, be times that community demands are unrealistic (cf. rainbow farting unicorns), but the developer will have an opportunity to explain why such demands are unreasonable or overly burdensome to the project.

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