Proposed preschool draws traffic concerns

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published October 10, 2017

ROCHESTER HILLS — A proposed preschool on the southeast corner of Tienken and Adams roads has some residents concerned about increased traffic.

“Area residents can tell you that traffic backs up in every direction at this light, and not just at rush hour,” city resident Beth Tilove said in an email. “Adjacent subdivisions have complained repeatedly about cut-through traffic as drivers seek to avoid the intersection.”

The owners of Premier Academy plan to build a two-story, 14,000-square-foot preschool/daycare center for 162 students ages 6 months to 6 years.

But according to Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett, a preliminary traffic study shows traffic increases at the intersection would be small if the facility were built and operational.

“Between 1 and 4 percent,” Barnett said of the increase. The site is currently zoned residential and permits a preschool/daycare center. “They are not asking for a zoning change,” Barnett said.  

The development project was presented to the Rochester Hills Planning Commission Aug. 29. A number of residents spoke about possible overloaded traffic, due to the location of Adams High School on the northwest corner of the intersection and the nearby Van Hoosen Middle School.

According to Rochester Hills Director of Planning and Economic Development Sara Roediger, residentially zoned districts permit compatible related uses if all requirements are met. Uses include agricultural uses, municipal buildings, schools, libraries and museums, and stables and parks.

Premier Academy owner Jeff Schmitz said the Premier Academy Oakland Township location on Rochester Road, at Snell Road, which is at full capacity, has been open since 2009. All teachers are degreed and certified, he said.

“We don’t want to get the community upset for no reason,” Schmitz said. “The question is traffic. At the high end, (the increase would be) 4 percent. And those moms and dads dropping off their kids are on the road anyway. They don’t go 5 miles out of their way (for daycare).”

Schmitz said facility construction would include approximately $250,000 in road improvements, paid for by Premier Academy’s owners.

“We will add a right-turn lane on Adams and extend the center lane of Tienken 100 feet,” he said. “I submitted a proposal that meets the ordinance. Growth in Oakland County is going north. Traffic will never get better.” 

By a unanimous vote,  the Planning Commission tabled a conditional use recommendation approval for the Premier Academy project until more traffic information is available.

A planned groundbreaking in August has now been delayed until next spring. Schmitz said he hopes to bring another proposal to the Planning Commission in late October or early November.

Schmitz said he disputes residents who are worried that the intersection will not be safe.

“I have three kids myself,” he said. “With my kids in the car, I am the safest driver in the world.”