ANN ARBOR TOWNSHIP NEWSLETTER
LAND PRESERVATION MILLAGE PROPOSAL
After more than two years of study, the Township Farming and Farmland
Protection Committee asked the Township Board in August to place
a millage proposal on the ballot this November 4. The Township Board
agreed to place the measure before voters. The proposal reads in
Proposal to provide funding for the purchase of development rights
for the permanent preservation of farmland and open space throughout
the township: Shall the authorized charter millage for ad valorem
taxes for the Charter Township of Ann Arbor be increased by 0.7
mills ($.70 per $1000 of taxable value) for the Township's fiscal
years 2004 through 2023, inclusive, for purposes of funding the
purchase of development rights for the permanent preservation of
farmland and open space throughout the Township, to be levied upon
taxable real and tangible personal property within the Township,
which levy will raise in the first year an estimated $278,083, which
together with the Township's existing levies, will result in a total
authorized charter millage established at 3.50 mills.
Purchase of development rights (PDR) is a voluntary program in
which a landowner sells the development rights of their property.
The value of the development rights is established by an appraisal
and is the difference between the value of the land as fully developed
and as agricultural land. Once an agreement is made between the
township and the landowner, a permanent deed restriction is placed
on the property that restricts the type of activities that can take
place on the land in perpetuity, ensuring that the land will remain
agricultural or open space forever. The landowner retains ownership
of the parcel and can sell the property at any time. The procedure
used in selection of parcels is defined in the recently approved
Township PDR Ordinance (See related article).
More than $5.7 M would be raised over 20 years for a local fund
to offer eligible landowners a voluntary option rather than developing
farmland and open spaces. The program would also make our Township
farmland eligible for state and federal PDR matching funds. Coupled
with those funds and other local public and private funds, the Farmland
Protection Committee estimates that two-thirds of the farmland in
Ann Arbor Township could be protected.
PURCHASE OF DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS (PDR) ORDINANCE ADOPTED
The Township Board has approved a PDR Ordinance developed by the
Township Farming and Farmland Protection Committee. State law requires
establishment of a PDR Ordinance by all townships in order to qualify
for state PDR funds. This Ordinance defines the procedures that
would be used to select properties for participation in a township
PDR program if funds are available. It defines the areas eligible
for consideration as those lands shown in the Township General Development
Plan designated for Agricultural Use or Rural Residential Use (less
than 0.2 dwelling units per acre). It establishes a ranking system
for land voluntarily offered by landowners using criteria such as
the characteristics of the farmland, landowner stewardship, likelihood
of conversion to non-farm uses, planning and financial considerations.
The ranking will be done by a seven-member Farmland and Open Space
Preservation Board appointed by the Township Board. The Preservation
Board's recommendations will be forwarded to the Township Board
of Trustees for final decision.
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
Whitmore Lake LLC: The Township Planning Commission has recommended
disapproval for a proposal to rezone 160 acres at the southeast
corner of Whitmore Lake and Warren Road to Residential 3 (R3) (allowing
4 units per acre) from Agricultural 1 and Residential 2. After a
Public Hearing and other input from residents, the petitioner and
township consultants, the Township Planning Commission found that
the proposal is not consistent with the Township General Development
Plan, that it would establish a negative precedent for the northeast
area of the township and that water and sewer service were inadequate.
Domino's Farm Expansion: The Township Planning Commission recently
approved the preliminary site plan for a 220,000 square foot expansion
of the Domino's Farm Office Complex. The proposed office use and
plan was consistent with the Township General Development Plan.
The Planning Commission worked with Domino's Farms to ensure substantial
improvements in the storm water management system and also required
Washtenaw County Road Commission approval of a plan to improve traffic
flow at the busy intersection of Plymouth Road and New Earhart Drive.
When completed in December 2004, the complex will have nearly one
million square feet of Class A office space.
Toyota Technical Center Expansion: The Final Site Plan for a 28,000
square foot addition to the Toyota Technical Center has been approved
by the Planning Commission for the automaker's new design center.
Substantial improvements in the storm water management system and
more than 300 tree and shrub plantings were required by the Planning
Washtenaw County Community College: An addition to the WCC campus
was approved by the township to accommodate new training facilities
used for a training program that brings millions of dollars annually
to our area.
FARMLAND PRESERVATION GOES REGIONAL
For the past six months, a busy Township Farming and Farmland
Preservation Committee has been working to establish a regional
farmland protection effort. The Washtenaw County Farmland Conservation
Group was formed with farmers and government leaders from the Townships
of Ann Arbor, Salem, Superior, Northfield, Webster, Scio, Dexter,
Freedom and Pittsfield.
Our township committee, the WFCG and the County Farm Bureau co-hosted
a farmland protection workshop earlier this year, attracting more
than 210 government leaders, farmers and citizens. Speakers such
as Senator Liz Brater and Representatives Gene DeRossett and Ruth
Ann Jamnick reviewed Governor Granholm's Bipartisan Land Use Council
proposals and other state and local initiatives. Also detailed was
a new federal program for farmland protection that requires local
matching funds. Presentations on county and surrounding township
efforts indicated significant regional support for farming and farmland
protection. For additional information or if you would like to be
involved in the WFCG please contact Trustee John Allison.
In related news, the Township Board recently approved another
Township Farming Committee proposal for Farmland Drain Tile Ordinances.
The purpose is to ensure protection of existing tiles, which are
necessary for draining farm fields, when new construction occurs.
A rehabilitated Foster Bridge is expected to reopen this fall.
This unique and historical single-lane bridge crosses the Huron
River at Maple Road. The upgraded bridge will accommodate a heavier
load limit allowing use by school buses, fire trucks and other emergency
vehicles. The project includes rehabilitation of the structural
steel, new decking, painting in a historically accurate color and
stream bank stabilization. Ann Arbor Township provided funds for
preliminary engineering. Barton Village and the County Road Commission
funded the construction. Volunteers are being sought to help landscape
the approaches to the bridge.
The County Road Commission expects construction on a major new
bridge on Dixboro to start next year. With federal and state funds
secured, the Road Commission is putting final touches on plans for
a new four-lane bridge over the Huron River and railroad tracks
at Dixboro Road. The $9 million project includes construction of
a five-land road approach and rebuilding of the intersections at
Geddes and Dixboro and Huron River Drive and Dixboro. With the proposed
elevation, the existing train crossing will be eliminated. The bridge
will have a pedestrian and bicycle walk. Construction is scheduled
for about one year, with anticipated completion in June 2005. Dixboro
Road traffic will continue during most of the construction.
The County Road Commission is resurfacing Whitmore Lake Road between
Warren and Five Mile Road. Paved shoulders will be added to create
a safe bicycle route along this road. Work is expected to be completed
SUPERVISOR'S REPORT by Michael Moran
As you can see from information in this newsletter, our Township
continues to grow, and the businesses that call Ann Arbor Township
home continue to invest in expanding their presence and facilities
here. The University of Michigan and Washtenaw Community College
now keep us informed of their plans for future development and are
both working with us to realize their visions.
We are leaders in the beginning phases of a regional planning effort
with nearby governments. Our focus is on those goals we can better
realize by working together.
The Township has new office hours, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., which
were adopted to better mesh with the hours when our residents and
those working for them request our services.
We have passed new telecommunications provisions that require that
"no tree trimming or tree work shall be done in the Public Right-of-Way
without previously informing the Township Supervisor, the Township
Building Inspector and affected land owners in writing not less
than 20 days before the trimming work, except in an emergency, in
which case notice shall be given as soon as possible. The Township
has the right to request that Permittee remove and replace with
a comparable tree, at Permittee's sole expense, trees which were
significantly damaged by necessary work of trimming, or provide
restitution if a comparable tree is not available. Permittee shall
dispose of all trimmed materials. If you suffer violations of these
provisions, please contact Gary Dresselhouse at the township office.
We came though the recent blackout without significant problems.
I have asked our Utilities Supervisor, Sheriff's Lieutenant, and
Fire Chief to report to me regarding problems that they faced and
their suggestions for better coping with similar problems in the
I look forward to continuing to work with our residents, our Township
Board and other Township Committees to plan for our future and address
any problems that arise.
MEET YOUR TOWNSHIP OFFICIALS
Meet Gene Ragland, the newest Township Board Trustee, and Rena
Basch and Dick Mitchell, the newest members of the Township Planning
Gene Ragland joined the Board when Mike Moran resigned as Trustee
to accept the position of Township Supervisor following Libby Langford's
retirement. He has lived in the township for 25 years and first
came to the area to attend U-M Medical School. After serving as
a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Medical Corp, he returned to Ann Arbor
and St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. During his 25 years in emergency
medicine at St. Joseph, he served in many leadership positions both
at the hospital and in the greater medical community. Since his
retirement in 2001, he has devoted his energies to community service
including board appointments at Dawn Farm, Ecology Center, Safe
House and SecureCare, a provider of medical services to correctional
facilities. He and his wife Marge have two sons.
Rena Basch, Ph.D. works as Senior Technical Specialist and Team
Leader in Research and Advanced Engineering at Ford Motor Company.
Part of a family with a tradition of community service, Rena's extensive
volunteer work includes student mentoring and the Township Police
Protection Committee. Her work on the Planning Commission stems
from a strong personal commitment to protecting the environment.
Rena and her husband Jeff have lived in the Township since 1999
and have two young children.
Dick Mitchell is president of Mitchell and Mouat Architects, a
ten-person firm that designed several familiar buildings in Ann
Arbor including the Washtenaw County Government Services Building
in downtown Ann Arbor, The Roberto Clemente School on Textile and
additions to the First United Methodist Church on State Street.
He has served on the boards of various architectural organizations
as well as the Historic District Commission in Traverse City prior
to moving here. He and his wife Kate Mitchell have lived on the
west side of Ann Arbor Township for 12 years and have four children.
GABRIEL RICHARD HIGH SCHOOL WELCOMED TO OUR TOWNSHIP
Ann Arbor Township welcomes Gabriel Richard High School and some
380 students to our township. The new 92,000 square foot building
offers modern facilities situated on 43 acres and is near Domino's
Farm. The site plan includes an athletic field, contemplative nature
trails and state of the art storm water management facilities. The
Township has approved zoning for the high school for a second building
phase, which would provide for a total combined capacity of 700
A number of Township residents have reported phone calls from pollsters
about the millage proposal. Some were told that this polling was
sponsored by the Township. Such phone surveys are very expensive
and the Township is NOT involved in any such activity.
The newsletter is sent to REGISTERED VOTERS of the Township. If
you reside or pay taxes in the township and would like to be added
to our mailing list, please email the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org