Wall between new restaurant, neighborhood may be resolved

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published February 25, 2013

Resident input may have a deciding vote on what the site of a new pub near Nine Mile Road looks like when it is built.

A month after having the site plan for Buffalo Wild Wings, 23117 Harper Ave., on the site of a former bowling alley, approved by City Council, the owners pledged to work with the city and nearby residents to quell worries of too much noise and traffic from the restaurant.

“We are here to be good neighbors,” said Brian Carmody, chief operating officer for the franchise, which owns and operates 34 other Buffalo Wild Wings locations, 26 of which are in Michigan. “We are very active in the communities, and the last thing we want to do is upset our neighbors.”

At issue is a block wall currently separating the commercial property from the nearby neighborhood. According to the city’s site plan, a portion of that wall would not need to be rebuilt by the new owners and would, instead, be replaced with 30-inch high dense shrubbery.

“The wall has, obviously, become a very big topic — rightfully so — and we’re willing to do whatever it takes that the city wants to do and the residents want to do with regard to the wall,” Carmody said.

Speaking before council considered granting the restaurant one of five remaining liquor licenses in the city, residents living near the site said that alcohol, combined with the absence of the barrier between the pub and their community, would be a hardship.

“I want you to take into consideration the negative effect it is going to have on the surrounding neighborhood,” said resident Nancy Chrzanowski. “If the site plan is changed to keep that wall, it will not have a negative effect, but, as it stands today, it is going to have a negative effect on the residents of that area.”

“To me, it sounds very noisy,” said resident Gail McKenzie. “It’s been nice since the bar has closed down there; we’ve all lived when the bar was there. It was very loud. The wall was wonderful. I do want the wall to stay; that’s necessary.”

Community Development and Inspection Director Chris Rayes said the developers had also agreed to add rolling garage doors to the outdoor patio to block the noise for residents at night and, also, to make the space usable year-round. Mayor Kip Walby pointed out that, no matter what, the restaurant will be held to the same decibel limit as every other business in the city.

Walby instructed the CDI department to arrange a meeting that includes the developers and nearby concerned residents so that a decision about the wall can be made before the next City Council meeting March 4.

City Council unanimously approved the restaurant’s application for a new class C liquor license with dance and entertainment permits Feb. 19. This will bring the number of on-premise licenses available in the city from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission down to four.

“Below 14 Mile (Road), we’re the only ones with licenses left, even after this,” pointed out Councilman John Caron.

That “bodes well for the city in the future,” he added.

Carmody said they are very excited to be coming to St. Clair Shores.

“I’m very confident that we can be the neighbor that they expect us to be,” he said.