“Ann Arbor is really a suburb masquerading as a city.”

Say two professors, Matthew D. Lassiter and Rick M. Hills, in a must-read “other voices” in the Ann Arbor News today titled “Time to Back up Greenbelt.” They chastize the city for bowing to the wishes of NIMBY neighborhood associations, suggesting three changes in the city: 1) finally approve accessory apartments (or “granny/grad student flats”) 2) change the zoning code to allow for the growth prevented by the greenbelt 3) change zoning laws to allow for increased density throughout the entire region.

” … Right now, Ann Arbor is really a suburb masquerading as a city. Its overall residential density is about 3 dwelling units per acre, approximately the same ratio as the sprawling suburbs developed in Michigan during the 1980s and well below the state’s first wave of post-1945 suburbs. The zoning code should be amended to require a density level of at least 5.5 dwellings per acre, roughly the ratio that existed in Michigan’s cities before World War II.

Trying to prevent sprawl on the suburban fringe while maintaining Ann Arbor’s low-density residential landscape is incompatible with a sustainable development approach to the metropolitan region. Refusing to accept any changes to the “character of our neighborhoods” is ultimately a short-sighted and self-defeating strategy that will accelerate the quality-of-life decline caused by traffic jams and pollution of the air and water.

The passage of the greenbelt must become the catalyst for a comprehensive reorientation of growth policies inside as well as outside the city limits. … “

Author: Rob