GREENVILLE — In November of last year, Mike Brann Sr. and Mike Brann Jr. brought forth plans to construct a retail center on the edge of town, bringing with it a coffee shop and other potential businesses.
While those plans sit in limbo as roadway access for the site — which sits in front of Wal-Mart — is debated, the Branns are moving forward with another potential investment on a separate site: a Culver’s Restaurant.
During Thursday’s Greenville Planning Commission meeting, members of the Commission reviewed an application for a Planned Unit Development (PUD) site plan to construct the Culver’s between Taco Bell and Advanced Auto Parts at 1825 W. Washington Street (M-57).
According to City Planner Tim Johnson of Main Street Planning, the site plan faces a few obstacles as it contrasts with the initial Youngman Center PUD that was established for that site in 2005.
The entire site was 4.6 acres of vacant land fronting the south side of M-57 at the intersection of Youngman Road when established, and the approved PUD called for the eventual construction of four buildings.
To date, only a Taco Bell restaurant has been built on the property, and for where the Culver’s has been proposed (a total site size of 1.39 acres), that area was originally designated for two buildings, one at 15,750 square feet, the other at 1,000 square feet.
The current request, if approved, would essentially erase that design, as the Culver’s Restaurant would be 4,311 square feet with a drive-thru window on the western portion of the site — effectively displacing the two planned buildings from the 2005 PUD.
According to Johnson, the Culver’s proposal has been determined to be a “major change” from the 2005 PUD, meaning the new PUD must be processed in the same manner as the original PUD application.
In addressing the new site plan, Johnson and members of the Planning Commission brought forth two main concerns that would likely need to be addressed before any approval for the plan is given.
Johnson said the building’s planned drive-thru lane would likely be problematic in that it exits onto the site’s existing service drive to the north, which immediately exits onto Youngman Road to the east.
A proposed five parking spaces at the north end of the building and proximity of the drive-thru lane to Youngman Road raised concerns from the Commission.
“As the plans exist as we have received them, is there even room at the drive-thru exit to turn completely, then waiting to make a left-hand turn (onto Youngman Road)?” Commission Chairman David Ralph asked.
According to Johnson, the space would be about 15 feet, or “just barely enough for one car.”
Ralph said he feared the situation could create a scenario where a car exiting the drive-thru would be sitting at a 45-degree angle to exit east onto Youngman Road. With traffic entering southbound from M-57 and potentially exiting westbound from Taco Bell, Ralph said he felt the situation would need to be addressed.
“Unless they can make that turn and be squared up, I think we have a safety issue,” he said.
Engineer Kyle Wilson of Nederveld in Grand Rapids, speaking on behalf of the Branns, said he would work with his clients to address the situation.
Greenville City Manager George Bosanic suggested moving the entire building some distance to the west, if possible, to provide more buffer distance between the drive-thru lane and Youngman Road.
“Personally I think that would be a good idea, you could add a little more value to the landscaped area, too,” he said. “It might look a little better than it looks like on paper.”
In addressing the five parking spaces on the north end of the building, Wilson said that area could be instead turned into a possible outdoor seating area to prevent incoming traffic from the adjacent service drive.
“Our goal is to get everything taken care of and back to you,” Wilson said.
Commission member Dale Reyburn said he didn’t believe the drive-thru situation to be too problematic and was happy to see the plans come forward after complications have arisen with the Wal-Mart site.
“It looks a lot better here than it would to the west of there (in front of Wal-Mart),” he said. “A Culver’s seems like it’s a good fit.”
Members of the Planning Commission then voted unanimously to schedule a public hearing on June 8 to review the site plan and consider the major amendment to the PUD.
If approved at that time, the Planning Commission would make a recommendation to Greenville City Council, which would make the final decision on the PUD site plan.
While the Branns haven’t yet purchased the property in question, which is owned by Chicago Diversified Foods Corp. of Illinois, Mike Brann Jr. said he fully intends to buy it if the PUD application is approved.
“Culver’s has 640 franchises open across the country,” he said. “But we haven’t purchased the property yet, not until we know we can build.”