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October 3, 2012

Plans proceed for retail plaza, bank

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

Plans for the $6 million mixed-use Big Beaver Center development cleared a final hurdle when the Troy City Council approved preliminary site plans 6-1 Sept. 24.

The council approved plans for the planned unit development that features 24,000 square feet of retail space in a one-story building, a 3,500-square-foot Flagstar Bank and 16 single-family residential homes.

The council had postponed consideration of the plans at its Sept. 10 meeting so that a small-scale traffic study could be completed after residents expressed concern the development would snarl traffic.

Councilman Jim Campbell opposed the plans, saying he had concerns about safety for children walking to and from school on the narrow streets in the neighborhood, where there are no sidewalks, with the increase in traffic the new center would generate.

“I’m still concerned they don’t have sidewalks,” he said. “There will be more traffic during school time.”

The Planning Commission, with the exception of Planning Commissioner Tom Krent, recommended that the Troy City Council approve the plans for the planned unit development at its Aug. 14 meeting.

Krent, who lives in the adjacent neighborhood, said he would prefer that the bank be placed on the east side of the development, rather than the west side where it is slated to go, to ensure less traffic congestion.

“There will be a substantial increase in queuing on Alpine,” he said. “It’s easier to make changes now, on paper.”

The Troy City Council has final approval of PUDs, which provides the developer flexibility on zoning ordinance requirements in exchange for more creativity in the site design. The developer must agree to provide such features as green space, green options and compatibility with existing development. PUDs are generally used as a development tool.

Arkan Jonna, the developer, said that from a marketing standpoint, it is important for the bank to be positioned on the west side of the development, where it will serve as an anchor for the retail plaza.

The city’s traffic consultant, Stephen Dearing, said that positioning the bank on the east side of the development next to a driveway shared with other businesses could mean spillback traffic from the bank drive-thru onto Big Beaver.

The recent traffic study found no basis to question the safety of the proposed one-way exit driveway for the Flagstar Bank onto Alpine, and it found there are no crash patterns at the location.

Former Troy Mayor Jeanne Stine, who lives in that area, said the traffic report did not take into account future traffic counts generated by the development, and noted that no traffic count was taken on Friday, the busiest day for a bank.

“I have to rely on city staff,” Councilman Wade Fleming said, explaining that he would approve the plans. He was absent from the Sept. 10 council meeting. “This has been vetted quite a bit. I do understand the concerns,” he said. “The Monarch would have created much more of a traffic problem.”

The Monarch plans, approved in 2005 but later discarded, featured two high-rise units of condos featuring nine live/work units, a parking structure, townhouses and 17,690 square feet of specialty retail space.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.