On July 16, Menard, Inc. sent a letter to Van Buren Township requesting the rezoning of 0.61 acres currently zoned R1-B to C-2 zoning, and included the application fee of $1,198.30.
The application was signed by Richard Sloan, Belleville North Venture, LLC, owner of the majority of the property slated for the Menard site.
The project description was: Redevelop an improved parcel and three unimproved parcels for the purpose of constructing a Menard’s Home Improvement and Building Materials Supply Store.
This was the first formal step to building a Menard store in the area of the vacant Farmer Jack store, although VBT Supervisor Paul White had been talking about the project for months.
Supervisor White said he first contacted Menard about bringing a store here in July 2010.
The project, which would bring 75 full-time jobs and 75 part-time jobs, is expected to take nine months to construct following the initial ground-breaking, which is hoped to be next spring.
The letter, obtained Friday through a Freedom of Information Act request by the Independent, said the 0.61-acre site will be incorporated into the overall Menard development currently proposed on the adjacent 20.14 acres.
Menard also sent an overall plan for the store project to VBT with legal descriptions. Plans call for the vacant Farmer Jack store to be demolished to make way for the entryway to the Menard store. No other stores in the adjoining strip mall will be affected.
The 0.61-acre site referred to in the rezoning request is the land obtained from the Wayne County Fairgrounds to enable Menard to meet township setback requirements for its new store.
At a Belleville Central Business Community meeting on Friday, Wayne County Fair Association president Frank Rochowiak said Menard has signed an agreement to pay the fairgounds $110,000 for the sliver of land.
He told the CBC that the fairgrounds plan to use the money to expand electrical availability for the campsites at the north end of the fairground properties. He said campers have called for more electrical availability at the campsite. The fairground officials have been upgrading the fairgrounds facilities over the last year or so, bringing compliments from the public for their work.
Rochowiak said it took a lot of negotiations for the fair board to get the top payment for the 0.61 acre at the rear of its property.
Sale of the property is contingent upon VBT approval of the Menard project.
Mike Simonds, Real Estate Representative for Menard, Inc., based in Eau Claire, WI, asked VBT Director of Planning and Economic Development Terry Carroll for a timetable to follow for the development.
Another letter in the FOIA packet of information received Friday was dated Jan. 27 and thanked VBT Supervisor Paul White for the time he has spent with Menard officials.
“We are always happy to pursue a project that is welcomed by the governing body,” wrote Charles Sharp, another Real Estate Representative for Menard.
Supervisor White has unilaterally been pursing the Menard project for VBT and his opponents had publicly made fun of him and doubted Menard would actually build.
Another memo in the FOIA packet of information having to do with Menard was a report on hydrant flows, as compiled by David Nummer of Wade Trim, township engineering consultant.
Nummer said he had Wade Trim people run the water model for the township to determine the fire flow capacity for the area adjacent to the previous Farmer Jack store. The water main on Belleville Road and on the I-94 Service Drive is 16-inch. There is a six-inch water main loop on the site that is also part of the model, Nummer reported.
For the 16-inch main on Belleville / Service Drive, they are getting a fire flow of 3,500 gallons per minute. For the six-inch loop on the site the fire flow was 2,300 gallons per minute, Nummer reported.
Other correspondence was from Menard asking for copies of ordinances on various topics so Menard could comply.
Drawings submitted to the township show the entrance to the new store to be in the area where the present Farmer Jack store is located, facing Belleville Road. A second entrance, for the lumber sales, would be off the I-94 North Service Drive.
On Saturday, a delighted Supervisor White said the new Menard’s store will be very beneficial to Van Buren Township area residents.
“A very important benefit will be approximately 150 jobs, which is the average for a Menard’s Store. Seventy-five will be full time, and 75 part time, and the store will also add much-needed dollars to our tax base. These are very important factors for our township. A large home improvement store will help bring other businesses to our township.
“This new store will save our residents time and gas money as it will be centrally located in the township, and be more convenient for our residents than other area home improvement stores located outside our township,” White said.
“Menard’s offers 20-plus departments, a How-To Center, many different services, pole barn kits, and even plans and materials for complete homes of all sizes.
“Menard’s has many departments for the ladies’ shopping pleasure, and the men will find everything they need for the garage and yard. Menard’s is the third-largest home improvement store in America.”