2016-01-14 / Front Page

ZBA puts down height variance

Approves sign request for dealership
By Paula K. Schmidt
810-452-2647 • pschmidt@mihomepaper.com

GRAND BLANC TWP. — Currently located on S. Saginaw Street in the township, auto dealer Grand Blanc Nissan is building quickly on Holly Road what will soon become another premiere retail auto center in Grand Blanc Township.

In light of that, a dealership representative, Tracey Diehl proposed to the Zoning Board of Appeals last week, they qualified for a sign variance based on similar signage at Grand Blanc Motorcars, as well as other factors.

In dispute were two signs wanted above the service area, which would indicate regular service and express service and the main sign on the front of the building, which was actually two signs “Grand Blanc” and “Nissan.”

According to another representative John McNabb, the service area faces Holly Road, but because it sits back about 12 feet from the main façade of the building, they were concerned they would not be visible to customers approaching from that side of the lot.

Both Ed Brown and Mark Palazzolo agreed that was likely the case. Technically, because there is no separation between the showroom, which also faces Holly Road, this would however create a case where there was more than one sign on the side of the building, as is allowed.

Attorney David Lattie noted in the discussion, that the word “façade” is not defined in the ordinance, giving the board a bit of leeway which ended in their approval of the two signs on the set back façade.

Palazzolo suggested a resolution for the two sep- arate signs of Grand Blanc Nissan, and Lattie felt that was logical. The board asked Diehl if they would be open to placing the signs closer together so that it would be more like one sign, which she stated they would agree to.

Diehl indicated Nissan had wanted the separation. “Ultimately our size and placement is biggest concern but placing the brand name on the building is of course a priority.”

Andy Andre, P.E., President of Bud Design, spoke on behalf of an applicant proposing another hotel in the Holly Road corridor behind the Dort Federal Credit Union headquarters building currently being constructed.

The building would have a design feature on the outside which would make its official height 54 feet, however it is located in a General Commercial zone; which only allows 30 feet or two stories, whichever is less. The hotel was planned on a 10 acre site.

The applicant said they wanted to conform to the typical layout of a Fairfield Inn, which was four stories and due to the slope of the site and wetlands area they were not able to spread the project out as opposed to up.

The parcel is also zoned partly Professional Office as well. Andre stated they wanted to preserve the wetlands area and “reduce our footprint and impact area” which is why they were opting for four floors and hoping to obtain the variance.

Additionally, members of the public who attended the public hearing for the project objected to possible light and noise pollution from the project, despite Andre’s assurances that the greenery on the lot should contain that.

He also said they would be using LED lighting that is directed downward and on a motion sensor so as to be used only when traffic is in the lot. Nonetheless, Commissioner Debbie Honea, who recently replaced the retired Paul Wagner questioned why they requested a variance, as they had not justified their reason for coming under the “practical difficulty” standard.

“It just comes down to why we should write you for four stories when you’re only allowed two?” Honea asked. “Because there’s no reason you can’t build otherwise.” Andre stated it was that the Fairfield Inn wanted a consistent look. Following discussion, Honea proposed the motion the variance be denied.

Following that, Lattie said they had not presented compelling reasons to have that many floors or a need to exceed the standard and the variance denial was approved. In other business, the Dixie Lodge was granted a variance for being a care center but not located with access to two arterial roads.

The board’s logic was that there were other skilled nursing and care centers, Brookdale and the Oaks at Woodfield for example, who also were not located with such access. In discussion with staff and the planner, no one could recall why or how the requirement was in the ordinance so it was waived.

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