By Rosemary K. Otzman
On May 22, the Van Buren Township Planning Commission sent a recommendation for rezoning of .6 acre of land at the southwest corner of Hannan and Ecorse roads from AG-Agricultural to C-Local Business.
On Aug. 6, the VBT Board of Trustees voted to approve the first reading of the rezoning to make the whole parcel C-Local Business zoning.
Frank (Fawwaz) Jarbou owns 2.23 acres at the site, which includes the .6 acre site that is Agricultural zoning, plus attached property currently zoned C-Local Business. He requested the whole site be rezoned to C1-General Business, “to better develop the property we have.”
The planning commission held a public hearing on his request at its May 8 meeting and at its May 22 meeting it voted unanimously to recommend sticking with C zoning for the whole site.
The township board makes the final decision.
Sally Hodges of McKenna Associates, the township’s planning consultants, said in a memo to the commission that the eastern portion of the site is zoned C-Local Business and is subject to a consent judgment in the case of Shukr vs. Van Buren Township. The terms of the consent agreement included approval of a specific site plan for a gas station and convenience store and that the land remains zoned C-Local Business district.
Since the currently proposed use is not consistent with the terms of the consent agreement, the regulations of C-District apply.
The .6 acre of land on the western part of the site was acquired later and was added to the application.
That’s where a “pig launching” facility would be placed for DTE Energy’s MichCon division, which will allow MichCon to periodically launch underground pipeline inspection equipment from the leased property.
Jarbou said his family is currently developing a gas station, retail stores, and a Tim Horton’s on seven acres directly across Hannan Road in the City of Romulus.
At the May 22 meeting, Commissioner Carl Johnson asked if the new owner can be held to the consent judgment and Hodges said her opinion is yes, but the township attorney is researching the situation.
She said Jarbou could reapply to build something under C zoning. Hodges said the consent judgment references a specific site plan for a gas station and a convenience store.
“That is the last thing we would do is build another gas station across the street. That’s one of the reasons we bought the property,” Jarbou said.
He said people are looking for drive-throughs and he thinks a drive-through bank is needed there. He said 2,000 to 3,000 square feet is the most they can build there with the setbacks needed.
He said his family is widening part of Ecorse Road in Romulus as part of their development, since it is an entryway to Romulus. He said Romulus wants something nice and so they are putting in great landscaping and brick buildings.
Hodges said at the public hearing that the VBT side is an entrance from the east and Ecorse is a “major community gateway.” Thus, the consultants would encourage an entry monument sign at the corner and high-quality, attractive materials and design for what would be built there.
Ernie Tozer was the only person to speak at the five-minute public hearing on May 8 and he pointed out the amendment to the township Master Plan for the Grace Lake area includes this parcel and it is shown as Mixed Use. He said what Jarbou is proposing is not what it’s supposed to be.
“We are entertaining rezoning that and it is contrary to the Master Plan,” Tozer said.
“Anyone can apply for rezoning,” said commission chairperson Carol Thompson.
Thompson said the commission has studied Mixed Use and it didn’t go forward.
Arthur Mullen, interim director of Planning and Economic Development, said “the area across the street from our downtown is good for Mixed Use.”
Thompson said to add to the to-do list looking at that part of the Master Plan.
Tozer said you can’t rezone against the Master Plan unless you revise the Master Plan first.
“This is for you to use,” Tozer said.
“My recommendation is to follow the Master Plan and rezone to C,” Hodges said.
“If we zone it C, we are following the Master Plan as it stands,” said Treasurer Sharry Budd, the board representative on the planning commission.
“Then we can revisit the Master Plan for that segment of the township. The court
let anything be put there under C-1, but didn’t rezone,” Budd said.
Commission members were reluctant to
make the motion, so Budd made the motion to rezone the AG to C and Bryon Kelley seconded.
Three months later, at its Aug. 6 meeting, the township board unanimously approved the first reading of rezoning the AG part to C, to make the whole site C. There was a brief comment from Tozer. The rezoning will be official after the second reading, expected to be held at the Aug. 20 meeting.
The planning commission currently is looking into revising the Master Plan for that combined parcel.
By Rosemary K. Otzman