Ypsilanti Planning Commission postpones vote on Water Street Family Dollar store
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
A proposed Family Dollar store is slated to be the Water Street site's first building and city officials have expressed an interest in making sure it's a model for future development.
With that in mind, the Ypsilanti Planning Commission Wednesday night unanimously approved delaying voting on a site plan and rezoning recommendation while the design details are worked out.
The issues will be back before the Planning Commission at its next regular meeting on Sept. 18.
Commissioner Richard Murphy proposed postponing the vote after an hour and a half of discussion over the project's design. He noted the site plan put in front of the commissioners came with more than 20 recommended changes suggested by City Planner Teresa Gillotti, which far exceeds the norm.
"We usually don’t take action on site plans with more than 10 conditions, and we wouldn't know what we’re approving if we took action. So I'm inclined to postpone this for a month so (Gillotti) and the applicant can wrinkle out things," Murphy said.
The commission was considering the project’s site plans and a request to rezone Family Dollar's property from B4, general business and entryway overlay to a planned unit development. The Planning Commission votes on whether or not to recommend that City Council approve the plans and rezoning.
Among the concerns are the addition of windows, landscaping questions, reduction of the number of parking spots, addition of a knee wall, questions over window shading and more.
Over the objection of many residents and business owners, Council approved the purchase agreement for the $1.2 million project on May 7. Family Dollar will pay the city $210,000 for the land, and Morning Star, one of Family Dollar’s developing partners, is proposing to construct an 8,320-square-foot store.
The store will be built at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Park Street in Water Street’s northeast corner, and a new section of Lincoln Street will extend from north to south just west of the building and south of Michigan Avenue.
The city assembled the Water Street property years ago in the hope of spurring development of a mix of businesses and residential units, but the projects never materialized and the property has sat vacant for years.
At the discussion's outset Wednesday night, Gillotti underscored that the design for the property is particularly important because it's Water Street’s first development and will set precedent for future development on the 38-acre site.
“It’s the first corner, and it will impact what happens to the south, so we set it up as the template, if you will, at least for this part of Water Street,” Gillotti said.
The city is aiming for a more “urban” feel with easy accessibility for pedestrians on both sides of the building facing streets. The city is also requiring a small parking lot, a building set close to Michigan Avenue, bike racks, wide sidewalks, eliminating a berm on Michigan Avenue, "street trees" and more.
One of the sticking points between the Planning Commission and the developer was the northeast corner of the .81-acre parcel Family Dollar owns. The building will be set on the property's west side and the parking lot will be on the east.
Chairman Rod Johnson said he would prefer to eliminate several parking spots because they are in the corner of the Water Street property.
Josh Allen, a representative from Morning Star, said he wasn’t comfortable eliminating the two spots closest to the store's entrance.
“That’s the corner of the Water Street entryway, the power corner, and we need to make a statement more than 'ease of entryway to a store,'” Johnson said. “I would still want to consider beefing up that corner because that’s the signature corner of the whole entire Water Street.”
Commissioner Cheryl Zuellig suggested a short screen wall, which Murphy said was favorable to eliminating two parking spots, which he didn’t think would have much of an impact on the corner.
Despite some disagreements, Johnson said he was confident the issues could be resolved.
"The devil can be in the details; I don’t think they're here. I think we can smooth these out," he said.
Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter for AnnArbor.com. Contact the news desk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2572.