Ann Arbor’s new downtown zoning plan could finally be adopted this month. Dubbed A2D2–for Ann Arbor Discovering Downtown–it’s intended to encourage downtown housing. Along with quantitative rules such as a 160-foot height limit, the measure scheduled for consideration on October 19 also includes the city’s first design guidelines–qualitative tips on things like how to harmonize large new buildings with existing smaller-scale structures. But to the disappointment of guideline advocates, the rules will be voluntary, at least at first.
Planning commission chair Bonnie Bona says she’s “still very concerned about large sites and blocky buildings” if compliance isn’t required. Fourth Ward council member Marcia Higgins, who steered the process, acknowledges the concern–but says that “if everything is mandatory, it can be so restrictive that you may not get anything [architecturally] new.” Mayor John Hieftje notes that with an automatic one-year review built into the system, the rules can be revisited quickly if the voluntary guidelines don’t work.
Update: City Council’s public hearing and action on the A2D2 zoning changes and design guidelines have been rescheduled to Monday, November 16.