"42 North" was used to describe two versions of a housing project proposed for a 15 acre site on the west side of Ann Arbor at 1430 South Maple Road. The name "42 North" apparently refers to the site being located near the 42 north latitude line.

First Plan

The first site plan was submitted in 2007 by Wood Partners. The proposed "planned development" consisted of 160, four-bedroom apartments in five buildings and a separate clubhouse. The plan also called for an immense parking lot, with 640 parking places. Moreover, the developer's plan was to lease each bedroom in an apartment independently, so that four strangers would be housed in each apartment. The site plan was submitted as a planned project because such developments can exceed height and density limits of the property's zoning district.

The plan was very controversial. The surrounding neighborhoods opposed the plan for its adverse impact on the watersheds that originate at that property and for the negative impact that the very dense development would have on the neighborhood. The neighbors formed an opposition group called the South Maple Group.

On October 16 and November 20, 2007, the Ann Arbor Planning Commission held a public hearing on the proposed planned project. The Planning Commission voted to recommend approval of the project. On January 22, 2008, the City Council voted 10 to 1 to reject the planned project.

Second Plan

In March 2008, the developer contacted neighbors to announce its intention to submit a revised site plan for the South Maple property. The revised plan reduced the height of the apartment buildings and reduced the number of apartments to comply with the requirements of the R4B zoning that is applicable to the property. The plan also called for fewer parking spaces.

The South Maple Group again opposed the project for its adverse impact on the environment and neighborhood. The Planning Commission again recommended approval of the site plan. The City Council sought advice from the City Attorney on whether it could reject a site plan based on the project's adverse impact on public health, safety and welfare. Believing that the City Code language that allowed consideration of adverse impact on public health, safety and welfare to be unconstitutionally vague, the Council voted to approve the revised 42 North project.

According to the city code, Chapter 57 section 5:122(6):

   “Standards for site plan approval. A site plan shall be approved by the appropriate body after it determines that:
        (a) The contemplated development would comply with all applicable state, local and federal law, ordinances, standards and regulations; and
        (b) The development would limit the disturbance of natural features to the minimum necessary to allow a reasonable use of the land, applying criteria for reviewing a natural features statement of impact set forth in this Chapter; and
        (c) The development would not cause a public or private nuisance and would not have a detrimental effect on the public health, safety or welfare.”

The 42 North project was not built. The developer did not exercise its option on the property. It is generally believed that the economic downturn in 2008 (especially in the real estate market) caused the developer to lose financial backing.

In early 2010, a different developer teamed up with the property owner and the 42 North architect to propose a different use of the property. [1] Retaining many of the same design elements, the new proposal would have been marketed to a different demographic. The project has not advanced. The property remains on the market.

Plan Expiration

The site plan for 42 North was set to expire September 8, 2011. On June 28, 2011, a member of the development team petitioned the City for an administrative extension to the site plan. On August 18, 2011, a planning staff member informed the developer that site plan no longer complies with the applicable zoning regulations. The City altered the R4B (and other) zoning districts when it approved the Area Height and Placement modifications to the City Code. See Ann Arbor City Code, Title V, Chapter 55, Article III. The notice from the planning staff encouraged "timely" submission of the necessary revisions, without setting a deadline. These documents can be found on the eTrakit site, by searching for project SP11-020.

On October 3, 2011, planning staff sent the neighborhood an email confirming the denial of the developer's petition for an administrative amendment of the 42 North site plan. The plan has expired and any subsequent development on that property will require a new site plan and full review in the planning process. [2]

Subsequent Plan

In January 2012, a developer notified neighbors of a new project for the 1430 South Maple Road site called The Grove.

On the Web

Wood Partners

South Maple Group

In the news

Wendy Rampson, the city's planning manager, told members of the Planning Commission Tuesday night the project site plan — approved three years ago by a 7-4 vote of the Ann Arbor City Council — has expired and the property owner isn't seeking an extension now.

Hours of debate, fact-finding and agonized decision-making ended Monday when Ann Arbor's City Council OK'd a controversial student-apartment project off South Maple Road by a 7-4 vote.

Agenda: Resolution to Approve 42 North Site Plan, Development Agreement and Wetland Use Permit, 15.32 Acres, 1430 South Maple Road