By Rosemary K. Otzman
Sadek Properties, which owns the BP station on Belleville Road at the North I-94 Service Drive, is seeking approval for a drive-through restaurant.
At the Feb. 11 meeting of the Van Buren Township Planning Commission, Chris Sadek sought special land use in the C-2 district for a Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through.
The planners will vote on the request at a future meeting and then send their recommendation on to the township board for a final vote.
BP will remove its car wash and renovate the building currently occupied by Quizno’s. The site will be brought to current zoning standards.
Jack Knowles, VBT Director of Building and Planning, said Sadek has added an escape lane to the drive plans, as requested by the township.
Planning Commissioner Carl Johnson read a letter from Mark Mitra, owner of the Arby’s restaurant next door. He said 70% of his business comes from his drive through.
“While I welcome the Dunkin Donuts to the township, I am concerned that the placement of their drive-thru would have a direct negative impact on our business,” Mitra wrote.
He said the noise and words from both speaker systems will interfere with each other and many customers drive diesel trucks that while idling would make it difficult for Arby’s customers to hear and speak.
He asked for the speaker and menu board to be moved 70 feet south of where they have either speaker board and a fence/sound barrier to be built for the distance of the drive between their two properties.
“Lastly, the proposed drive thru will have vehicles so close that customers will be looking at each other head on. This could detract from our customer experience. Having people basically stare at each other while they wait could make customers uncomfortable and avoid doing business with us,” Mitra wrote.
Sadek said the majority of the Dunkin’ Donuts business will be from 5 to 9 a.m. and he will control the volume.
“I’m not a fan of fences, but maybe landscaping would work,” he said. “People looking at each other? What would be wrong with that?
“I’ll work with the tenant and Mark one-on-one to address the sound,” he said.
“I talked to Mr. Mitra earlier today and acknowledged his concerns,” Knowles said, adding he asked if Mitra would participate in landscaping screening and his answer was “maybe.”
“That’s better than a no,” Knowles said.
Bedford Cove PRD extended
After discussion, the planning commission voted unanimously to recommend a five-year extension for the Planned Residential Development agreement for Elro Corporation and Bedford Cove.
This recommendation to extend the PRD until April 9, 2020 now will go to the township board for a final vote.
Bedford Cove, located on the south side of W. Huron River Drive between Hoeft and Elwell, previously got a PRD extension to April 9, 2015, which is ready to expire. It is 98.58 acres and will contain 201 residential units.
More than 30 acres is planned to be open space, including a four-acre park and a 17-acre natural preserve. All the units are to be detached single-family dwellings.
Attorney Eric Lind and Jessie Krantz of Elro explained the situation. They reminded the planners that Elro was a family land developer started in 1960. They built Charter Club and Mission Pointe in VBT, which they said were assets to the community.
The land for Bedford Cove was acquired in the late 1990s after a 6.5-year process. The PRD agreement was formally agreed to in April 2007 and, “in a year the economy really crashed and things came to a halt.”
They said they had four years to begin construction, but nothing could take place.
“If we started, the infrastructure could be in place but there would be vacant lots that the police would have to patrol,” Lind said.
In 2011 they entered into an extension agreement for four years with VBT. For the first three years nothing could take place and the site remained partially farmed and wooded, Lind said.
Last year, Cobblestone and others started building single-family homes.
Lind said in VBT, there are 700 lots fully developed and no houses on them.
He said there will be a slow absorption rate. If they built a few homes, it would slow down Cobblestone.
They asked for no more than five years extension. Lind said they could start in the next two years when the absorption rate is better.
Basically, the property would stay the same, he said, adding the farmer lives adjacent to the property and there would be farming. The property includes the former site of the popular Girard produce farm and stand.
Lind said this would give the township a chance to catch up with the lots available.
Knowles reminded the planners that Elro gave VBT the right of way, at no charge, for the water line that went under the lake.
“We have a bonafide developer who weathered the storm when others have not, through careful planning … They’ve got a positive track record in the township,” Knowles said.
Commissioner Bob McKenna suggested they get a three-year extension and then come back, if they need more time.
Treasurer Sharry Budd disagreed with McKenna, citing what they did with Mission Pointe. She said by the third year they should start and after five years not need an extension.
Lind said because of the uncertainties involved they would like the five years, “but as a compromise, after three years we could come before the commission or give a written report on where we stand.”
The commission recommended approval of a five-year PRD extension, with reports by letter every two years.
Outdoor Dining Ordinance
Proposed amendments to the zoning ordinance to permit outdoor dining and table service in the C-1 district were completed and a public hearing will be set for 7:30 p.m. March 11.
Special Work Study Meeting
At 5 p.m., Feb. 4, the VBT Planning Commission held a special work/study meeting to hear the plans for a hotel and extended-stay parking lot at the northeast corner of North I-94 Service Drive and Quirk Road, the former Jacobs horse farm.
The proposal was presented and no action taken.
The proposed hotel is located in the C-2 zoning district, which permits hotels. The proposed extended-stay parking lot is located in the R-1B zoning district, which does not permit parking lot uses. The number of parking spaces proposed on the site exceeds the maximum permitted by the zoning ordinance for a hotel use.
The parcels combined measure about 11.316 acres.
A public hearing on the proposal has been set for March 11 at 7:30 p.m. before the VBT Planning Commission.
By Rosemary K. Otzman