The Berkley Planning Commission gave The Berkley development a recommendation of denial at its June 26 meeting. That recommendation now goes to the City Council for review.

The Berkley Planning Commission gave The Berkley development a recommendation of denial at its June 26 meeting. That recommendation now goes to the City Council for review.

Rendering provided by the city of Berkley

Berkley commission votes to recommend denial of La Salette apartment project

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published July 11, 2018

BERKLEY — The apartment project that would take over the Our Lady of La Salette School site hit a snag at the last Berkley Planning Commission meeting.

The site plans for “The Berkley” at 2219 Coolidge Highway, developed by Berkley-Coolidge LLC, were given a denial recommendation in a 6-2 vote. Those plans now go to the City Council, where the council is expected to review them during its July 16 meeting.

The commission first heard from both supporters and opponents of the project, who, one-by-one, gave their feelings on The Berkley.

Chris Riley voiced his objection to the plans, and told the commission that he wants a project that meets all seven standards for approval of a planned unit development (PUD). Projects need to meet three of seven criteria to be considered for a PUD.

“There are so many things wrong with it that it doesn’t fit a PUD application. That is the bottom line,” he said. “I’m not against any development on that property, just very reasonable: to-code buildings, retail, apartments. Those are all perfectly fine. I live right down the street. I don’t like looking at a decrepit parking lot all day, but this high-rise building, with the amount of cars and traffic it’s going to create, is unreasonable to this site.”

Kevin Gee, a resident of Huntington Woods but a parishioner of the La Salette church, said that many people who own property envision it as their nest egg to use for a valuable purpose. He said this has to happen for Our Lady of La Salette.

“We believe that it is advantageous to our community to create a space that benefits Our Lady (of) La Salette and Berkley, and furthers the goal of making the city a place where people want to be,” he said.

Keith Owen, a representative of Berkley-Coolidge LLC, gave a short overview of the project before saying that the development team believed that its project had met the standards for site plan approval.

“I believe that the civil engineering provided with our package is consistent with what’s required by your ordinance,” he said. “There are certainly issues that can and should be addressed during final engineering review, but as part of the PUD and site plan approval, the degree of civil engineering we provided, I think, more than meets the standard of your ordinance. We believe that the proposed project is consistent with PUD requirements and meets the standard for that.”

The Planning Commission did not feel the same way.

One concern felt by many of the commissioners is the height and scale of the building. The building’s height was proposed at 54 feet 4 inches. This included a ground floor and four stories above it, and a 7-foot-8-inch mechanical penthouse on the top, which brings it to a height of a little more than 62 feet.

Commissioner Timothy Murad said that he felt he could have voted to recommend the project to council had it had one less floor, which was a sentiment expressed by other members of the commission.

“If you removed one floor, you’d only be three stories on Coolidge,” he said. “It’d be lower. The whole mass of the building would be lower; your parking issues would go away completely. I know there’s economy for you guys as to what it’s costing you and what you’re going to be able to take in as rent.”

The commission moved to recommend the denial to council on the basis that it failed to comply with the goals of the master plan relative to the size and scale of the proposed building.

“It’ll be up to council to decide how they want to proceed from here,” Commissioner David Barnett said.