A 71-year-old Catholic church in Ann Arbor has won the vehicle parking requirements appeal against the city.
The church undergoing an expansion had contested the new electric vehicle parking requirements. They won after the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals voted 5-1 Wednesday night, July 28.
This means they have been granted an exception for St. Francis of Assisi Parish. The church can now install significantly less EV charging infrastructure than required under a new ordinance.
Having received the City Council’s OK earlier this year for a roughly 14,600-square-foot addition at 2250 E. Stadium Blvd, the Chruch has since challenged EV parking requirements, citing concerns about the costs.
New Ann Arbor ordinance looks to a future filled with electric vehicles. When the development plans were going through approval, the church was told the city’s new EV ordinance would require installing 26 EV chargers in the church parking area, which has over 280 spaces and making another 65 spaces ready or capable to add future EV chargers.
This made the church go before the zoning board in May, requesting a variance from all EV requirements. After the proposal was tabled, there were more talks between the church and the city.
Eventually, on Wednesday, the zoning board voted to OK a revised variance request from St. Franci. So, the church now will have to install six EV chargers and make another four spaces ready for future chargers — an overall reduction from 91 spaces to 10 spaces that will have some level of EV infrastructure.
Not in support of the move, the city’s sustainability office instead suggested having 25 spaces with some level of EV infrastructure.
City Planner Chris Cheng told the zoning board that the sustainability office would have supported the church installing six chargers and making 19 spaces ready or capable for future chargers. Even though a St. Francis representative suggested the church was open to a compromise closer to that, it did not go to a vote.
Jon Barrett, the city’s zoning coordinator, told the board it had to vote yes or no vote on the church’s 10-space proposal. It eventually went through with only Julia Goode opposed due to concerns that 10 EV spaces are too little. Although she agreed it’s a unique case and said 91 seemed too high.
“I’m kind of sad that we can’t negotiate a deal right now,” she said.
Having envisioned a not-so-distant future filled with electric cars powered by renewable energy, the city sees it as a key part of the 2030 A2Zero carbon-neutrality plan.
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