The AnnArbor.com story about the meeting and a Civic News Ticker from the Ann Arbor Chronicle focus on a vacant parcel on Packard near Platt that's currently zoned for single-family residential. The owner of the property wants to put a duplex on the site, and asked to have the the parcel rezoned to a new zoning that would also allow duplexes. By a unanimous vote, the Planning Commission turned down the request, stating in the discussion both that the master plan envisioned single-family homes in that area and that they were not in the habit of doing "spot zoning" to change a single parcel. The petitioner was encouraged to consult with neighbors to see if an entire block front could be upzoned which would be more likely – though by no means guaranteed – to get approval.
An interesting bit of public commentary on this public hearing came from a neighbor, who did not express an opinion about the zoning request but did request that the property owners trim their trees, which are extending over to her roof.
I live in a neighborhood that has duplexes, and I have to say that they are perfectly in character in a mix of housing that includes single-family houses next door. Indeed, I can't imagine a neighborhood situation where a duplex would be out of character anywhere in Ann Arbor, especially given modern duplex designs that look like single-family homes. It's not atypical that on my block a neighbor lives in a home that was built as a single family home, was duplexed in the 1940s, and was unduplexed when she bought it.
I'm also not sure that the master planning for the area in question makes any sense. Packard is an extraordinary busy street near Platt, and five lanes of traffic means that any single family home is going to be particularly attractive to a buyer. The part of Packard that I leave near is upzoned along quite a length, allowing for a mix of rental properties, small apartment buildings, offices and retail. It's a good mix, and makes for a more interesting place to live. I'd think that even if the area in question stayed residential that it would be sensible to allow more density along Packard – not necessarily a 13 story high rise, but other dense residential or small-scale commerical or office property that characterizes the rest of the Packard corridor.
The zoning map below shows the parcel – it's one of the ten residential lots on the north size of Packard, with commerical and apartment buildings across the street and offices and retail on the same side to the west.