Ann Arbor area Menards: Rezoning request considered for store on Jackson Road
The Wisconsin-based home improvement chain is looking to build a roughly 160,000-square-foot store on the southeast corner of Jackson and Staebler Roads, just west of the Meijer store at Jackson and Zeeb.
Menards is under contract to purchase 62-acres of the 165-acre site — which is known as the former Farmer Grant land.
The property was eyed for development in 2008 with the proposal of a $100 million mixed-use project called The Village at Honey Creek. That project fell through due to zoning issues and the crash in the real estate market.
The site was conditionally zoned in 2009, meaning it was dependent on the nature of the proposed development, said Scio Township Supervisor E. Spaulding Clark. With The Village at Honey Creek development, the property was a mix of commercial, light industrial and residential zoning.
Now Menards is requesting a straight rezoning to general commercial for the 62-acre portion, which is owned by Mel Vanderbrug and Don Colone, operating as Scio Properties LLC.
Township Planner Doug Lewan said the request, "generally speaking, is in accordance with the Township's master plan."
He added: "This is a location where we are looking for growth and density. This is in a location where we envision this type of use."
At the same time, Scio Township is looking to revert the conditional zoning for the remainder of the property back to its original designation: general agriculture.
The reason, said Lewan: When the property was conditionally zoned in 2009, it was under the assumption that if the conditions of the (Village at Honey Creek) project were not satisfied, the property “shall revert back to its former classification.”
“We believe this is necessary, and in fact, required in our ordinance,” Lewan said.
Several people spoke during the public hearing portion of Monday’s meeting, mostly about the zoning reversion of the property. Peter Jackson, who owns 30-acres of the property that Menards is not interested in, expressed concern over changing the property’s zoning in the event that Menards doesn’t move forward with its plan to build the store.
His property was the target of a senior housing development as part of The Village at Honey Creek.
“We don’t have a problem with what’s being proposed,” he said. But in the event the Menards doesn’t get built, “we would have undone (the zoning) we all spent a long time doing.”
Dana Dever, a local attorney representing the Grants — who still own some acreage on the site — also said he’s not opposed to Menards building a store.
His concern, he said, is the Grants’ parcel being reverted from the conditional zoning of multi-family residential zoning to general agriculture.
“I’m puzzled why we’re disrupting the two parcels to the south and making them very difficult to develop and sell,” he said. “I have three people looking at the site and it’s very likely they’ll propose residential (developments) within the next year.”
With the agricultural zoning, he may not be able to sell the property, he said.
The commissioners requested more information be provided on the history of the site before a decision is made on both Menards’ zoning request and the revert-back zoning.
Commissioner Celeste Novak said she’d like to “look for some alternatives” to reverting the zoning back to agriculture.
Although site plans for the Menards store are still in preliminary stages, the store would likely only account for 16 of the 62-acres the company is looking to purchase.
The rest is expected to be used for open space, buffering and other developments, such as restaurants or a small medical complex.
If the Menards rezoning request is approved, the applicant will still have to get special land use approval for the site, and then address issues such as the impact to neighboring communities, Lewan said.
The rezoning request will return to Planning Commission at its May 14 meeting.
Menards, which has 262 locations in 13 states, including nine locations in Michigan, filed a rezoning request with Pittsfield Township in 2010 to build a store at 4700 Carpenter Road.
The Pittsfield Township Planning Commission voted to deny the rezoning request from light industrial to commercial, and the Board of Trustees then voted to accept the recommendation.
Rezoning the land would not have been in keeping with the township’s Master Land Use plan, said Township Clerk Alan Israel at the time. A report noted issues such as the traffic and congestion the project could create and that it would set a precedent for commercial zoning on both sides of Carpenter Road.
After the request was denied, Menards confirmed it would continue to search for a location in Washtenaw County.
The company is also currently looking to build stores in Warren, Livonia and Kalamazoo County, and is in various stages of approval for rezoning requests and site plans for those stores.