Planning Commission Agenda, 2024-06-13

The municipal agenda for the Planning Commission meeting on 2024-06-13 is ๐Ÿ‘‰here๐Ÿ‘ˆ

UPDATE 2024-06-09: Added elevations of the 616 Bridge St "Back Lot" project.

527 Leonard St NW

This is Mitten Brewing; they are redesigning their outdoor seating. A waiver is required to remove seven (7) parking spaces to make room for a permanent seating area. The only vertical infrastructure will be polls to support shade sails. The seating area will be surrounded by a 4ft fence. A parking agreement has been made with adjacent businesses to allow use of shared parking capacity for Mitten employees.

As Mitten Brewing is a brewery they also require permission for alcohol service.


2750 Birchcrest Dr SE

This is a Special Land Use request by Bethel Empowerment Church to operate a church in a commercial district; specifically an existing shopping center. The church expects a weekly attendance of 120 persons during Sunday services (10am - 2pm) and will operate office hours Tuesday - Thursday from 10am until 3pm. Additional programming may occur on evenings, concluding at 9pm. No modifications are proposed to the existing structures beyond renovation and maintenance.

The existing site provides ample surface parking.

1700 28th St & 2856 Kalamazoo Ave SE

This item was postponed from the 2024-05-09 Planning Commission at the request of the application

This is a request for alcohol sales and 24 hour operation, both of which require Special Land Use (SLU). All structures on the related properties will be demolished and a new fueling station constructed on the parcel to the north of the existing facility. The relocation of the facility will move it further away from residential uses, specifically those on Shangrai-La Drive.

The State of Michigan limits the sale of packaged alcohol [such as beer] at fueling stations to 7am - 2am; the city's approval of alcohol sales does not supersede that limitation, even if 24 hour operation is approved.

600 Bridge St NW

Robert Wahl has abandoned his project at 59 Commerce Ave. SW which was presented to the Planning Commission on 2023-09-14 and is now proposing a project in this recently vacated property. The west side is on ๐Ÿ”ฅfire๐Ÿ”ฅ! Let's hope some higher density housing comes to this corridor soon.

The request is for a parking waiver, of course, as well as approval of a new restaurant with alcohol service and permission to operate past midnight.

The site provides four (4) parking space; however, the city's arbitrary and absurdist zoning ordinance requires 23 parking spaces, for a sq/ft bar. The ordinance's arbitrary requirement is for 0.75 spaces for every three (3) potential occupants and as the occupancy of the building is ninety-one (91) persons that is 22.75, or rounded up, twenty three (23) parking spaces. On a 4,000sq/ft lot? It is geometrically impossible to park 23 vehicles on this property even if all structures were cleared! Sadly, this is a textbook example of American Urban Planning.

Fortunately the ordinance provides a collection of handy waves to let the Planning Commission back out of the ridiculous and arbitrary requirement. We've hashed and rehashed them here many, many, times; a 50% reduction in the requirement is permitted if:

  • Adjacency to a parking facility
  • Availability of public transit service.
  • Efficiency of the design of onsite parking capacity

There is little doubt this waiver will be granted as . . . what else are you going to do with this site? It exists as it has existed for decades, it existed as it does today when the arbitrary requirements of the current ordinance were written down. The Bridge St corridor is thriving, there is a queue of business operators who want to be there, and it is doing so without providing abundant on-site parking. Mr. Wahl's (the applicant) legal representatives ๐Ÿ‘‰provide a letter๐Ÿ‘ˆ discussing the available nearby parking, including an AirGarage operated on a nearby vacant lot. However, it has to be recognized that even this postured compliance with meeting the zoning ordinance's arbitrary requirements is absurd - this is the Bridge St corridor - those vacant lots and surface parking lots are more likely to be developed in the near future than anywhere else in the city. The Urban Planning cut-n-paste of thirty years ago should not be standing in the way. Let's just stop playing this game; remove the arbitrary requirements from the ordinance. The City Commission could do that in 30 days. ๐Ÿ‘


616 Bridge St & 346 Lexington Ave NW

The Back Stop is back! Back stop previously proposed a food truck court development on a different Bridge St property at the 2023-02-23 Planning Commission meeting. The existing site will be demolished and cleared for this project.

Back Stop Bridge Street 2.0 includes indoor seating for 267 and outdoor seating for 299; a total of 566. It feels like a venue scaled for before and after event surges. ๐Ÿค” A upper level sun deck is also provided, which will be the third rooftop seating area in the downtown and downtown adjacent area. RV type hook-ups will be provided for the food trucks, there will be no generators. Firepits and heat lamps will be used in the outdoor seating area during the winter months. While the area is largely open a facade will be constructed along Bridge St to continue the street wall from the adjacent buildings to the east.

Proposed hours of operation are 11am - 10pm, Monday - Friday; 11am - 11pm Saturday and Sunday.

The sites previous automotive related uses have left it in a contaminated state, included a large underground fuel storage tank. The tank will be located [???๐Ÿ˜ฌ] and removed if the project moves forward. Contaminated soil will be capped and contained.

Special Land Use (SLU) dispensation is required for onsite alcohol consumption, and - of course - a parking waiver. The project provides sixteen (16) parking spaces on the adjacent lot along Lexington Ave. The provided documents do not lay out the counts related to a parking waiver, but with a seating capacity of 566 and a requirement of 0.75 spaces for every three (3) potential occupants the minimum requirement would be for one hundred forty two (142) parking spaces. ๐Ÿ™„ The two properties total 0.6 acres, if converted entirely to surface parking you could squeeze in ~118 vehicles? Of course, nobody would be able to get in or out, but if the Planners and Commissioners converted the entire area to surface parking there would be nowhere to go outside your car, so ยฏ\_(ใƒ„)_/ยฏ .


1119 Wealthy St SE

Is it possible to ๐Ÿ’•crush๐Ÿ’• on a project? This is one of the most Strongtownsy projects to have floated across the agendas; a very simple activation of a vacant lot [0.085 acres; 3,700sq/ft], adding to the fabric of the neighborhood. Some landscaping, picnic tables, a bike rack, and a food truck. ๐Ÿ‘Š

An RV style electrical hook-up is mentioned in the application, hopefully this means there will be no generator required for operation of the food truck. The documentation does not include proposed hours of operation.

Mobile food vending requires Special Land Use (SLU).