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Amended site plan OK’d for Fresh Farms Market expansion

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published August 3, 2016

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GROSSE POINTE CITY — Whether you shop there or have driven in the area of Fisher Road and Grosse Pointe Boulevard in recent months, you know that Fresh Farms Market is undergoing a major expansion and renovation that will give a new look to the City’s Fisher Road business district.

But as is the case in many large construction projects, sometimes elements end up changing. That’s been the case for Fresh Farms Market, located at 355 Fisher Road. The Grosse Pointe City Council, sitting as the Planning Commission, unanimously voted in favor of amended special use and amended site plan requests during a July 18 meeting. City Planner John Jackson, of McKenna Associates, recommended approval of both of these items, each of which came with their own set of conditions.

The original special use request and site plan were approved by the council in July 2015, he said.

Changes to the site plan include eliminating the basement and moving 6,980 square feet of storage to a second-floor stockroom, increasing the building height from 30 feet 10 inches to 34 feet, reducing usable market floor space from 28,600 square feet to 27,560 square feet, and reconfiguring the parking lot in a way that retains the same number of spaces but relocates some spaces to adjacent property.

The basement storage “wasn’t feasible,” said Jackson, and the reconfigured parking proposal reduces some landscaping to retain 21 9-foot-wide parking spaces in a shared parking lot to the north of the store. If the adjacent property owner — who has 23 spaces in that lot now — doesn’t wish to accept 21 spaces, Jackson asked the council to give City administrators the authority to review and approve a revised proposal that would feature 22 spaces that would be slightly narrower than 9 feet.

City Manager Peter Dame said that the easement agreement between Fresh Farms Market and the neighboring Fisher Mews calls for 22 spaces. But to get 22 spaces, they’d need to be 8.5 feet wide instead of 9 feet wide. Still, City officials said even the smaller new spaces would be better than the spaces that exist in the old lot.

“The spaces that are in that lot now are less than 8 feet wide,” Jackson said of the old parking lot.

Dame said the lot, at present, is “not up to our current standards.”

City Councilwoman Jean Weipert cautioned administrators to make sure that all parking spaces “are wide enough” so that customers “can easily get into these spaces, and we don’t end up” fielding complaints from residents and visitors like they do now for parking spaces at the new Village Kroger store. The size of those spaces is what led City officials to amend their requirements for parking space sizes, she said.

“The number of people who complain about the size of spaces (in the Kroger lot) is phenomenal,” City Councilman Christopher Walsh said. “It could be the biggest single complaint we get about parking (in the City).”

The new height of 34 feet is still within the maximum allowed, which is 35 feet, Jackson said.

“The additional height is virtually unperceivable,” said Jackson, who added that the quality of the design would stay the same.

Conditions for approval include directing service and delivery vehicles to enter the site from Fisher and exit via Maumee Avenue, with a left turn only back onto Fisher.

“That system works well on other (parts) of the block,” Jackson said.

The idea is to keep service and delivery vehicles out of adjacent residential streets, officials said.

Dame said unloading requirements “would apply to garbage trucks too,” so the compactor — which will be replacing a large trash receptacle — can’t be unloaded before 7 a.m.

That was good news to residents such as Charlie McFeely, who lives near the store.

“Right now, the dumpsters are something we hear at 6:45 in the morning. … That noise is unbelievable,” McFeely said.

The hours for loading and unloading will be limited to 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily, Dame said.