Homogenizing Ann Arbor

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

Homogenizing Ann Arbor

There is nothing inherently wrong with townhouses. Of course they have their place in Ann Arbor, an important option in housing choice. But their place isn't everywhere and anywhere that they can be squeezed into. And while some developments make sense, others don't. This one doesn't. A large-mass, multi-building, attached townhouse development on Dicken Woods just doesn't make sense. In the first place, it doesn't make sense because Dicken Woods, one of the last sites of its kind on Ann Arbor's west side, is so much better used as a special natural area - for all the reasons enumerated on this web site - rather than as the host of a major construction site; and in the second place, it doesn't make sense because the proposed style of development simply doesn't fit in the Dicken neighborhood, which is dominated by single family, single story ranch houses.

The West Area Plan identifies the problems:

  • "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 with neighborhoods is not always complementary or compatible with the existing prevailing style of architecture." [p. 23]

    "Conflicing 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]

The Crosswinds vision for Dicken Woods is the homogenization of Ann Arbor. It would force a large generic development into a special place it doesn't belong, out of character with the existing, well-established neighborhood.

We can do better. And we should do better.