GREENVILLE — Brann’s Retail Center is one step closer to bringing four new retail locations to town, but onekey word still stands between now and any physical construction: “Conditional.”
During Thursday’s Greenville Planning Commission meeting, members debated nearly an hour and half throughout a public hearing and meeting discussion on whether to approve a site plan for the site at 10990 W. Carson City Road (M-57), a 1-acre piece of property on the northeast corner of M-57 and Satterlee Roads in front of Walmart and directly west of Murphy Oil.
The Commission eventually voted 4-1 in favor of approving a “conditional site plan,” meaning several outlying conditions will have to be met before final approval, as well as the acceptance of three variance requests from the owners, Mike Brann Jr. and Mike Brann Sr., that will have to be approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Commissioner Pete Frye said he didn’t want to make the owners wait any longer.
“We either have to pass something tonight, or they have to come back,” he said. “I’m going to make a motion so they can at least proceed forward, so they can seek further approval. To make them wait, I don’t think that’s fair.”
According to Jan Johnson of Main Street Planning, the company that Greenville uses for city planning services, the two biggest conditional concerns are curb cut approvals from the Road Commission of Montcalm County on Satterlee Road, and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) on M-57. As of now, the Branns are awaiting confirmation from both organizations to approve the entryways on the property.
The largest point of contention came regarding the entrance-exit drive onto Satterlee Road, of which City Manager George Bosanic introduced concerns.
“I’m very concerned with the glossing over of the curb cut issue,” he said. “We spent an awful lot of time talking about bushes and lighting, but the big issue here is the location of this curb cut.”
Bosanic believes, as currently designed, Satterlee Road would not be prepared to handle the extra traffic generated by four new retail spaces — two of them including drive-thru businesses, with one ofthem confirmed to be a Biggby Coffee — combined withexiting traffic from Walmart. He said traffic waiting at the light on Satterlee Road coming from Walmart already backs up further than where the proposed curb cut entry-exit is planned.
“What we’re going to have, especially with drive-thru business — which is fast in-and-out, high-volume business — they are coming in to go through the drive-thru, and if these businesses are successful, which everyone wants them to be, then we are going to have a traffic jam on Satterlee,” he said. “People coming in and out, heading north, trying to get into that curb cut to access those buildings … I’m just very concerned.”
Bosanic said the lack of a center turn lane concerns him most. He compared it to the Meijer Gas Station and Burger King curb cuts on Greenville West Drive, which in design are similar, but the roadway features a center turn lane.
“Those that are traveling in opposite directions have a safe haven in the center turn lane,” he said. “In this situation, you’re going to have the number of cars that are stacking to the north far exceed the length of where this curb-cut is located. It’s happening already. The width of Satterlee Road does not provide for a center turn lane.”
Bosanic said he is willing to reach out to Walmart, of which the Branns said they have had no success, to discuss adding a new entry-exit drive into the Walmart parking lot and service drive; however, that would possibly reduce parking spaces and compromise the site plan of the retail center.
“I’m just sharing myconcerns, because it would be unfortunate … we are being accommodating, as we should be, but if and when the Road Commission makes an approval on this, to have that type of situation exist, I want to make you aware that you are going into this with your eyes open,” Bosanic said. “If these problems occur, I don’t want to say I told you so, I don’t want to see that scenario happen.”
Commission Chairman David Ralph, who cast the lone opposing vote against the site plan, said he would have felt more comfortable moving forward knowing that the Road Commission and MDOT were already on board.
“I still do have a level of concern about an access (drive) off of M-57 that goes immediately into stacking for a drive-through, which also has traffic coming from the west across the parking lot, which also has (adjacent) parking spaces,” he said. “I would be uncomfortable granting full unconditional approval tonight. I would simply ask that the applicant complete that process that has not been completed.”
Frye does not believe approval will come from the Road Commission or MDOT, however, he doesn’t believe the Brann’s will have much luck if the Planning Commission did not first approve a conditional site plan.
“I don’t see how the Brann organization can go to the county and say, ‘The city hasn’t approved this proposal, but we want you to approve the access to Satterlee Road and approve it without a turnoff lane,’” he said. “I don’t think they are going to go anywhere with those approvals unless we give them a conditional approval.”
Commissioner Dale Reyburn said he had no problem with giving conditional approval to allow the Brann’s to move forward in their additional requests.
“I’m prepared to say yes to this, and let the county decide if they are going to give them access,” he said. “Yes it is going to be tight, yes you probably do need a center lane on Satterlee. I can see where it’s going to be slow getting out of there for sure, but I just think it’s going to be slow. That’s not speeding traffic, it’s slow. If you have an accident there, it’s not going to be life-threatening, and I think that the entry on M-57 will be curved enough.”
The Planning Commission will review the issue again once the Branns have gone through their three variance requests with the Zoning Board of Appeals, and after they have met the necessary conditions as laid out at the request of the Commission.