Subaru Research and Development, Inc., at 50255 Michigan Ave. on the former 80-acre Harold Smith farm in Denton, received a combined preliminary and final site plan approval to construct a 1,900-foot-long vehicle testing roadway on its property.
At the Oct. 27 zoom meeting of the Van Buren Township Planning Commission, Director of Planning and Economic Development Dan Power explained that the test track was in the original plans for the 63,574 square foot facility that was approved in 2018 and was largely complete in the summer of 2020. The track required a separate site plan review process.
Ryan Plum from Subaru Research and Development and Jeremy Schrot of Spaulding DeDecker and Mike Freckelton explained the project and said there is less storm water at the site than their original plan.
Vidya Krishnan, VBT’s principal planner from McKenna, said the track is allowed by right under the M-1 zoning. It ends in a cul de sac on the southwest corner of the project and three vehicles can be tested at the same time with speeds mostly 25-30 mph, up to 80 mph. The south side of the site is the CSX railroad and the east side is screened. Sound will be from 72 to 85 decibels. Testing will be done from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and headlight testing until 10 p.m.
The north side of the site is along Michigan Avenue and it was explained the Michigan Department of Transportation did not want sidewalks there since traffic goes 50 to 60 mph and it is not safe for pedestrians.
Commissioner Jeff Jahr said the depth of the test track is 2.5 inches, which is less than standard. He said he is an engineer and the industry standard is 3 inches.
Paul Kammer, the township’s engineering consultant from Fishbeck, said it’s a quality thing, more than anything else. It’s not a condition. His comment in his report was just a comment as an engineer, not a condition.
Schrot said MDOT allows 2 inches to 3 inches and they are right in the middle.
Commissioner Medina Atchinson made the motion, and Commissioner Jahr seconded, to grant preliminary and final site plans subject to conditions, including an additional review from Wayne County to make sure the drainage is still adequate. The motion was passed unanimously. Commissioner Kali Barr was absent from the meeting.
DTE Energy rezoning
After a public hearing, the commission also recommended approval of a rezoning to the township board of trustees for a 2.14-acre site at 42061 Ecorse Road, on the south side of Ecorse, between Haggerty Road and Kirkridge Park Drive, for DTE Energy.
Christopher Becker, the engineering manager for design of the substation and the applicant on behalf of DTE Energy, asked for the rezoning from C-1 General Business District, to M-1 Light Industrial.
He said they wish to build a 120 to 13.2 kV substation to support existing electrical distribution system and provide for growth in the area.
Director Power said the rezoning request will facilitate a later application for site plan review for a substation on the property.
Planner Krishnan said the vacant wooded lot is master planned for office and abuts the IRC corridor to the south and west. On the east is a warehouse. She said although the ITC corridor is zoned residential, no homes will be built there. She said there is a county drain along the north and west sides of the property and one employee will come for maintenance and it will add no traffic. She said this is not spot-zoning.
Krishnan said the M-1 zoning requires a setback of 50 feet and C-2 is 75 feet.
Becker said the wetlands in the southwest corner has EGLE requiring the moving of the substation closer to Ecorse Road, so they are seeking the smaller setback.
He said it is a small substation for DTE and plans call for a small house for the power distribution center. ITC has a small house in the southeast corner, he said. He said the drive into the site will be extra wide in order to get the delivery truck onto the site quickly and not disrupt traffic on Ecorse Road, which is two lanes at that point. It will also help in the future when the substation will be replaced. He said DTE will be seeking no variances.
Kojaian preliminary site plan
The commission also approved a preliminary site plan for Kojaian Van Buren Acquisitions, LLC, to construct a 66,450 square foot speculative industrial building and related site improvements at 6615 Haggerty Road.
The property is on the east side of Haggerty, north of Ecorse Road and south of Van Born Road and is zoned M-1, Light Industrial.
Director Power explained that there had been a proposed site plan approved for the property in 2018 by Neapco Driveline, but plans changed and the owner of the property decided to pursue construction for a potential manufacturing or light industrial tenant. Not Neapco.
Krishan said the owner decided to change its building for a speculative user. She said five different tax parcels have been combined to make the 5.31-acre site with two curb cuts. There will be cross access to the adjoining Neapco site for fire protection, she said.
Tony Antone from Kojaian company said they took Neapco to Romulus because it was growing and needing space.
“This building could end up being for them,” he said.
Antone also said they are going to have to focus on getting Haggerty Road repaved, referring to its disintegration.
Director Power said Haggerty Road paving is a priority of the township.
Director Power said a student at Wayne State University, Ashley Harris, wants to ask questions about being on the planning commission and he asked members who will agree to talk to her to send him an email.
He said because of the holidays there are just two meetings left before the end of the year: Nov. 10 and Dec. 8. He also reminded commissioners they are required to have two training sessions per year.