Frequently asked questions

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Last updated 4/15/19. (Scroll for more.)

When was the lawsuit filed?  Tuesday, April 9, 2019


Who is the defendant?  The City of Ann Arbor


Who is the plaintiff?  Tom Stulberg as an individual and an association called Ann Arbor Neighbors For Responsible Development, Inc.


What is the structure of this association?  A board of director controlled non-profit corporation, providing protection for the individual members.


Who are the board members?  Tom Stulberg, Laura Strowe, and Mary Underwood.


Who can be a member of the association? Anyone who resides or owns property in LowerTown, roughly bounded by the river on the south, west, and east and by Barton Drive and U of M's north campus to the north.


What does it cost to be a member?  It's free, and will stay that way.


How do I become a member?  Send your name, address, and email address to Tom, Laura, or Mary.


If I already supported my neighborhood by writing a letter, speaking, or donating money months ago, am I automatically a member?  No, please officially join now.


What if I live outside the neighborhood, but want to support this neighborhood association?  Please help us by donating to our GoFundMe, which pays for our legal fees.
How do I contribute to the GoFundMe?  Go to www.GoFundMe.com/Ann-Arbor-Responsible-Development.  Any amount, no matter how small, will show your support.


What is the status of the development?  The development was approved as one parcel then split into three.  Construction has begun on the first parcel, mostly the parking structure.  Sewers have also been installed under the future roadways.  Footings for the apartment building that will surround the parking have been started too.


Does the construction mean nothing can be changed on the site? It depends on the judge's impression of the case.  Because it was split into three lots, the second and third lots which are not under construction are not "vested" in their rezoning.  The association will present it's input for developing the site in compliance to the master plan.

What is the lawsuit about? In no particular order:

  • Rezoning of the property from PUD to C1A/R yet giving the developer all the benefits of a PUD while relieving it of the required community benefits was illegal.


  • C1A/R is not legal to use at this location, which is very important to stop it from being a precedent that will be used again in our neighborhood and in similar neighborhoods in every ward of the city.


  • The property was master planned for a mixed use urban village with PUD zoning recommended to achieve that.  It was approved as a residential development with a very small amount (under 1%) of commercial as an accessory use, and the developer can drop that to zero administratively.  The dearth of onsite commercial defies the justification for C1A/R's boundaries being stretched to accommodate using a core area mixed use zoning category.


  • If the property was to be developed 99-100% residential, it should have been re-zoned to residential, say R4E, which would have required way more open space, greater set backs, significantly more parking and significantly less density.


  • By giving the developer a rezoning away from PUD to another category but also with variances, planned project modifications, and conditional zoning, it created a PUD in everything but name.  The net effect was to avoid building over 90 units of affordable housing on site or about $10 million paid to the affordable housing fund.


  • The master plan for this site was quite specific including guidelines for height, massing, and materials.  This was ignored.


  • We are challenging the parking ordinance itself which allows for variances to be granted if they are "in harmony" and without any hardship.


  • We are challenging the planned project ordinance as well.  These last two are part of our claim that the city is not following the state's zoning enabling act. 

Possible results of our lawsuit:

  • The City is forced to follow its own laws regarding zoning and variances.
  • Revisions to city ordinances to bring them into compliance with the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act.
  • The association will determine what changes we want to ask for at the LowerTown site, particularly the second and third parcels which have not begun construction.
  • Traffic:  The association opposes the roundabout that will funnel cut-through traffic from this development and from Medical Center Court (McKinley) apartments seeking to avoid Maiden Lane when headed east.
  • Parking:  The association will demand the city deal with the parking problem that will be created by the current approval which permits a few hundred parking spots less than an R4 residential zoning would. 
  • Other vulnerable properties across the city won't suffer a similar fate.

Where can one go to get more specific information?