ALDI, Inc. received preliminary site plan approval for a new store with a unanimous vote of the Van Buren Township Planning Commission at its regular meeting April 13.
Constructed, just south of AutoZone on the east side of Belleville Road will be an 18,850-square-foot ALDI Food Market.
It will be a single-story, retail commercial building for a limited-assortment grocery store. The site is about 3.76 acres on a 19.61-acre parcel.
The site fronts Belleville Road at the new traffic light put in to also serve AutoZone and the Menard store that is to be built on the west of Belleville Road.
Christopher Grzenkowicz, a civil engineer representing ALDI, showed commissioners the plans for the building. He said they will extend the drive to the east entrance, put in sidewalks, and 85 parking spaces. There will be no cart enclosures because ALDI uses a cart rental/deposit system and there is no parking of carts in the lot.
Grzenkowicz said if a cart is found in the lot a customer can return it to the cart area and get a free quarter.
There will be covered bicycle parking and the western portion of the building is the sales area, with all glass doors.
He said tan, split-faced block will be at the base of the building, with red brick the rest of the way up on all four sides. A tower carries the ALDI logo and there is a secondary parapet that carries the food market sign. The truck well is to the east and there are two roof top units which are screened.
Sally Hodges of McKenna Associates, the township’s planning consultants, said the Cleveland Pear trees proposed as street trees are not durable enough and not long-lived – only living about 25 years. She wanted the trees changed.
Hodges wanted the parapet wall to be extended to act as screening for the roof units instead of the screening planned.
She said ALDI has planned 8.1 square feet too much of signs and will have to reduce that. Hodges recommended living ground cover or mulch be put along the plantings used on Belleville Road instead of river rock. Also, she suggested faux windows and other character and relief be added to the building façade facing Belleville Road.
Hodges said the monument sign proposed needs to be revised to comply with the ordinance to have a durable supporting base as least 24 inches in height with no separations between the sign face and the base.
But, she recommended, overall, that the preliminary site plan should be granted.
Wade Trim engineer Dave Nummer mentioned a proposal to construct an 8-inch public water main along the east AutoZone property line for easier maintenance, but Grzenkowicz said AutoZone is not interested.
As far as mulch, Grzenkowicz said ALDI prefers river rock because it doesn’t blow around. Also when they put in the monument base Hodges described, they will have to reduce the size of the sign which will satisfy the 8.1 square feet overage. Comments about the draining pond were met with Grzenkowicz saying ALDI is doing that to meet Wayne County standards, which includes a sedimentation pond that overflows to a lower detention pond that empties to the county storm drain along Belleville Road. The permanent pool is 4 feet deep and could go up another 4-5 feet after a rain.
Vice-chairman Don Boynton asked about the regional detention pond that had been discussed for the township in the past.
Dave Nummer of Wade Trim engineers said the project hit a stalemate with the county drain commission office and it’s permanently on hold. The issue had to do with ownership and maintenance of the pond and drain and this stopped the process, he said.
“I do not object to the river rock,” said Treasurer Sharry Budd. “When you’re using mulch, it gets weedy. Then you pour more on. Culver’s has used river rock and its trees are doing fine. Mulch gets bleached out.”
Commissioner Medina Atchinson said she agreed with Budd, adding, “I like the river rock … It’s a cleaner look and it stays in place.”
Grzenkowicz said ALDI has proposed vegetative screening between the store and the property to the south.
Hodges said if that property does not become a park, it would convert to commercial. She said it’s a property within transition.
She insisted rocks were a more hostile environment for trees because rocks retain the heat.
“The evergreens at Culver’s are thriving,” Treasurer Budd said. “Mulch is dirty and messy.”
Commission chairwoman Carol Thompson asked if they couldn’t put glass along Belleville Road.
Grzenkowicz said windows would bring in the hot, Western sun, but they could mimic glass and put in fake windows.
When Hodges pushed for extending the parapet up to screen the mechanicals, Grzenkowicz said they are not visible from the north side or Belleville Road.
She asked him to provide line-of-sight view, cross sections or photographs. She asked where other ALDIs with this design are located.
Grzenkowicz said this is a new design, with a much newer look. The closest store with this new design is located in Ionia, which opened in November.
Commissioner Ronald Jackson made the motion to approve the preliminary site plan, accepting river rock as mulch, and producing line-of-sight cross sections of the mechanicals, and putting glass along the front. This was seconded by Budd and passed unanimously.
In other business at the one-hour-and 28-minute meeting, the commission:
- Gave final approval to a request from USA Fireworks to set up a fireworks sales tent at Faith United Methodist Church, 6020 Denton Road, south of Michigan Avenue, for longer than the 7 days allowed by ordinance. The tent will be open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., except for Sundays when it will be noon to 10 p.m., June 18 through July 7. This is the fourth year it has been there;
- Approved the preliminary site plan for Verdeterre Contracting’s 1,440-square-foot addition to its building at 7994 Belleville Road on a site of 7.28 acres. Chris Brown, owner, said he has been on that site for 36 years. He said for 10 years they had 3-4 workers at the business, but now there are 6-8. The staff of 15-20 has to meet off-site at the Holiday Inn for training. Instead of putting in a sidewalk, he will contribute to the Downtown Development Authority’s sidewalk fund and when Belleville Road is widened to 5 lanes the sidewalk will be put in. He wanted to avoid widening the driveway that is only wide enough for one car because he hasn’t had an accident in 30 years and the commission allowed that with new signage to warn drivers. The bench already next to his office was allowed as an amenity; and
- Heard Matthew Best, deputy director of planning and economic development, announce that the 16 people named to the Lakeshore Ordinance study committee will be meeting in April and May to talk pro and con about the ordinance. He said as soon as he has something to report, he will send it to commissioners. From the larger group, there is a smaller work group that will meet two or three times and have homework to do. He said they looked at the volunteers and selected those who represented all parts around the lake.