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Polluted city property in Ann Arbor prompts remediation plan

Underground pollution at 415 W. Washington St. in downtown Ann Arbor has prompted a remediation plan for the site.
City of Ann Arbor Housing Commission, courtesy of SmithGroup
Underground pollution at 415 W. Washington St. in downtown Ann Arbor has prompted a remediation plan for the site.

The city of Ann Arbor is considering remediation plans for a city-owned property after a report on underground pollution at the site was presented at the City Planning Commission meeting on February 7.

The report extends the investigation of groundwater pollution on Ann Arbor city properties. It focused on 415 W. Washington St., where two carcinogenic contaminants, Benzene and Trichloroethylene (or TCE) have been detected underground.

The report, presented by engineering consultant Tetra Tech, found that the underground pollutants under the site do not pose an active threat to the surrounding areas, due to the groundwater direction, and will not spread beyond the site.

Derek Delacourt is the community services area administrator in Ann Arbor, overseeing the city's planning, zoning, and development. He said the remediation plan will also focus on protecting the site from pollutants at surrounding areas.

“Those off-site contaminants on privately owned property are not within the city's jurisdiction. That's the state of Michigan. But when it comes to the city's own site at 415, we are working toward remediating that site,” he said.

Delacourt said state and city testing are two separate projects operating independently. But the city remediation plan for the property will include protections from off-site contaminations and clean up to bring the property up to residential standards.

Christopher Matthewson is an environmental quality analyst with the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. The state is conducting its own tests in areas surrounding the city-owned property.

“We don’t have the whole picture yet, and that’s what we’re trying to get,” Mattewson explained.

The city is proposing a Brownfield redevelopment plan, which would allow a development company to carry out the city’s remediation plan and residential development, with the promise of reimbursement over time from the city through property taxes.

The city’s developmental framework for the property includes providing 15 affordable housing units, or ensuring that 15% of the units are affordable (whichever figure is greater). It would also include a 0.89 acre treeline trail to improve the “flood fringe” on the property.

Taylor Bowie is a senior studying English Literature at the University of Michigan and an intern in the Michigan Radio newsroom. She is originally from Owosso, Michigan.
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