Planners favored the concept of accommodating a local business’s redevelopment compared to demands the commission could place on a fresh new use for a site. Robson pointed out that who brings the request does not matter.
“In a court of law, existing or new business would hold no weight,” she told fellow planners. “It might make you more comfortable making a decision, but that is not how it works. A new owner would have just as many rights as an existing owner.
“When looking at making a decision, if there is a hardship, if it’s owner created, we can’t bend the rules. If the hardship is by a choice they are making, that is not a reason.”
Murphy’s motion to approve the site plan with the encroaching reductions and other conditions recommended by staff planner Tweeten failed 4-2, with Jim Holmes, Rick Neumann, chairman Gary Greenwell and Looze voting no and Murphy and Robson voting yes.
After more discussion, ultimately, Murphy voted with the 5-1 majority on a motion by Rick Neumann to approved Fletch’s submitted revised site plan, without staff recommended conditions. Robson cast the vote against that motion.
The action included the elimination of a corner display area at the McDowell and U.S. 31 corner in favor of more greenery; setting the main driveway entrance to 39 feet as recommended by Michigan Department of Transportation, added greenery and walkways on the site.
Fletch’s John Johnson said Thursday night they are excited about moving ahead and that without the city’s OK on this proposal, Fletch’s choices were limited.
“The last thing we want to do is move,” he said. “We’ve been in town all our lives.”
Absent: Emily Meyerson, Dean Burns, Eric Yetter
Present: Jim Holmes, John Murphy, Gary Greenwell, Elizabeth Looze, Rick Neumann and Cynthia Linn Robson
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