A special land use request for a Firestone Complete Auto Care Center to be placed at the site of a vacant Burger King on Garfield Road, south of Canal Road, was unanimously rejected by the Clinton Township Board of Trustees Nov. 13.

A special land use request for a Firestone Complete Auto Care Center to be placed at the site of a vacant Burger King on Garfield Road, south of Canal Road, was unanimously rejected by the Clinton Township Board of Trustees Nov. 13.

Photo by Jon Malavolti


Clinton Township rejects auto facility special land use

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published November 27, 2018

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — A special land use request for a large automotive repair facility was unanimously rejected by the Clinton Township Board of Trustees Nov. 13.

Firestone Complete Auto Care Center was originally approved 7-1 by the Clinton Township Planning Commission in late October, with township Trustee Jenifer “Joie” West being the lone “no” vote.

On Nov. 1, the commission made the recommendation to the Board of Trustees, for the site at 41591 Garfield Road, south of Canal Road, where a former Burger King location has stood vacant for about five years. The site would have encompassed the 0.92-acre parcel and included an approximate 6,000-square-foot facility.

As part of the recommendation, Firestone representatives said the facility would contain a 6-foot-8-inch masonry wall on the property’s west side to be a noise buffer for nearby residents.

Township Supervisor Bob Cannon cited noise as a major deterrent, making a motion to reject the proposal. The motion was seconded by Trustee Ken Pearl.

“I would not be voting ‘no’ if it were just for the competition,” Cannon said Nov. 13. “I believe in competition. But I do believe the residents deserve the serenity that they have come to enjoy from the time they bought their places till now.”

He later elaborated, saying that the proposed industrial-style business was too much for residents — some of whom attended the Nov. 13 meeting, or sent letters to township officials prior, to express their concerns.

“I do want (Firestone) in the community,” Cannon said. “It’s a great company with a great reputation. I don’t mind that they locate near a competitor, but I’m concerned about the noise for those behind the site. Noise is the only thing that bothered me”

At the Nov. 13 meeting, petitioner Todd Hamula, of Zaremba Group LLC in Lakewood, Ohio, as represented by Mike McPherson, of Atwell LLC in Southfield, said Firestone agreed to include a sound wall at the back of the property, with the site designed so bay doors wouldn’t face residential properties, but rather the nearby Kmart property.

He said the footprint was identical to Burger King, though hours of operation would have ceased at 7 p.m. and would have been “more compatible” than that of a fast food restaurant — which he stated has later hours and more consistent noise due to the drive-thru.

“I’m not arguing that there’s not gonna be noise from the operation. There are,” Hamula said Nov. 13. “The bay doors will be open in the summer, they’ll be closed in the winter obviously for heat. … Competition is good. Competition brings up everybody’s business in a better way, and we really ought to be considering the project based on zoning.”

Treasurer Paul Gieleghem said that items like air hammers and wrenches “can be very disruptive to conducive living.”

“Having the wrong use is worse than having it vacant,” he said. “Vacant is the opportunity that we need to get something new, but having the wrong use — we can’t go back on that. We can’t turn that around.”

At the planning commission’s Oct. 25 meeting, local business owners expressed concern over Firestone moving in.

Chris Harris told the commission how his family has owned a Midas auto repair shop for 27 years, providing good service to local residents and not being near residential properties. He cited the number of small, family-owned businesses in Clinton Township that would lose business to such a large conglomerate.

Michael Porath, owner of Metro Tire Center, has been at the current Canal Road location since 1987. He said his business has suffered in recent years due to increased competition, adding that a “powerhouse” like Firestone has the finances to conduct serious advertising and could possibly lead to small business closures.

Numerous other car center owners spoke that evening against the special land use, expressing similar sentiments as the aforementioned owners.

Township resident Peter Zingas, who owns the property in question, called the board’s decision “disappointing,” adding that four years of marketing and real estate brokerage has led to no new development and a dilapidated building.

He said the property in question will “be a hard sell” moving forward. Cannon maintained that he wants to continue to market the property, saying, “We want a viable business there.”

“I’m not sure when and if I will be able to satisfy here,” Zingas told the board. “I don’t think I can. There are no food users. Whoever are there are usually up on Hall Road. They’re not looking to come on Garfield Road.

“I’m afraid the property’s gonna sit for a lot longer than we’re all hoping. I’m afraid that the word’s gonna be out there that it’s difficult to develop it.”