Ann Arbor Master Plan

Note: This is archived info from the original website for the Friends of Dicken Woods. 
It was written when the Friends were in the process of saving DW


The Issues

The Ann Arbor Master Plan

What is "the Master Plan?" According to the website of the Ann Arbor Planning Department:

  • "In recent years, the City of Ann Arbor has prepared and adopted several plans that establish guidelines for the growth and development of our community. These plans provide a framework from which the public and private sectors can act in efforts to maintain the unique character and beauty of the City, ensure its diversity, support and expand its amenities, and promote desired change. The plans contribute to sound public and private decision-making about the future development and redevelopment of our community.

    The City is separated into geographic planning areas - Central, West, Northeast and South. The adopted plan for each area, together with citywide plans, comprise the Ann Arbor Master Plan."

The West Area Plan was adopted by the Ann Arbor City Planning Commission on February 7, 1995, and by the Ann Arbor City Council on April 17, 1995. Below are a number of quotes from the West Area Plan, from which the Friends of Dicken Woods take support.

According to the plan's guiding principles:

    "Existing natural resources such as wetlands, woodlands, steep slopes and waterways are assets to the community and provide valuable natural functions, such as improving air and water quality, fulfilling natural water infiltration roles and maintaining biodiversity. In addition, undeveloped environmentally special areas provide residents with physical, spiritual and mental benefits. The importance of such natural areas should be carefully weighed when considering proposals for new developments that would remove, reduce or adversely impact such areas." [p. 2]

    "Traffic burdens local streets and decreases quality of life in neighborhoods." [p. 2]

    "New development must benefit the entire community, be consistent with surrounding land uses, neither burden City services nor congest roads, and should be sensitive to natural resources." [p. 2]

Further, the plan goes on to state:

  • Problems: Conflicting Land Uses
    "Multiple-Family Impacts on Lower Density Residential Uses - Multiple-family uses can impact upon single-family neighborhoods in the following ways: 1) when conlicting land use buffers are absent; 2) where parking lots, with their inherent light and increased traffic, abut a residential use; 3) when the multiple-family use is significantly larger and out-of-scale in terms of height and mass of buildings with the abutting neighborhood properties. Generally, multiple-family uses are designed to separate them from the neighborhoods rather than to integrate them into the existing neighborhood." [p. 18]

    Problems: Environmental Issues
    "Floodplain and Natural Drainage Ways - West Area development occurring over the years has created a signficant amount of impervious surface that is not penetrable by water. Buildings and parking lots prevent absorption of precipitation into the soil. At times, development has occurred in natural drainage areas and floodplains, causing flooding problems. When impervious area replaces pervious, the cumulative effectd results in larger run-off flows during storms and has a significant impact on downstream neighborhoods. The Allen Creek drain and its impact on the Huron River water quality have not been adequately considered in the past." [p. 21]

    "Natural Features Preservation - As the West Area developed over the last several decades, little thought was given to the preservation of natural features such as wetlands, woodlands, steep slopes or natural drainage ways. However, many of the remaining vacant sites in the area are vacant because of physical constraints created by those features and because the sites with fewer natural features have been developed. With few easily developable sites remaining in the West Area, there is conflict between development and preservation of open space and natural features." [p. 22]

    "Parks and Recreation - In addition to active recreational opportunities, it is important to provide children with open and wooded undeveloped areas for creative play opportunities, but there are limited sites available for this type of activity in the West Area." [p. 22]

    Neighborhood Preservation
    "Lack of Protection for Neighborhood Character - Individual neighborhoods possess unique characteristics which can be lost if infill development occurs that is out of character with the existing fabric of a neighborhood. Infill development within neighborhoods is not always complimentary or compatible with the existing prevailing style of architecture." [p. 23]

Finally, as the West Area Plan's Introduction puts it: "The West Area neighborhoods are its most important asset." The Friends of Dicken Woods agree, and are taking action in support of the West Area Plan.