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Council, Wild Bill’s come to agreement on site plan

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published March 20, 2020

ST. CLAIR SHORES — After balking at plans to black out the windows of the building at 23107 Harper Ave. to make way for Wild Bill’s Tobacco to move in, members of the St. Clair Shores City Council heard the business’s new plans for the site at its March 16 meeting.

Kevin Chang, the representative for Wild Bill’s, told the City Council that they took comments made at a previous City Council meeting, as well as information they learned in subsequent planning department meetings to heart and came up with a plan to use a mirrored window tint on most of the first-floor windows, leaving the front door and the two windows flanking it transparent to allow police, and anyone else, to see in.

“We see the value of the design of this particular building,” Chang said. “There’s existing mullions on the glass. We will keep the mullions on there, and then mirrored tint will be placed behind the glass, so the existing design that’s there on the windows will stay there on the windows.”

Windows on the second floor, he said, would not be covered in any tint, so sunlight will enter into the building as well.

The company had been proposing to put black vinyl on all windows of the building, said City Planner Liz Koto.

“The mirrored finish does bring more depth to the windows,” she said. “That was what was recommended by the Planning Commission initially.”

Wild Bill’s Tobacco is leasing the building from Harper Management LLC, which filed a lawsuit against the city over the matter because the city had not moved forward on the site plan. Speaking March 16, St. Clair Shores City Attorney Robert Ihrie said, “I believe we have worked out the conditions that were in dispute.”

Some of those items include the replacement of the parking lot no later than June 30. Because of that, Ihrie said he expected that the lawsuit would be dismissed once the site plan changes were approved, but the attorney for Harper Management, Larry Scott, said he could not promise that.

The City Council approved the changes 5-1, with Councilman John Caron opposed and Councilman Peter Rubino excused absent, subject to the lawsuit being dismissed.

“This is, at least, what I was looking for,” Councilman Chris Vitale said. “About the safety concerns ... you addressed them to my satisfaction.”

Councilman Ron Frederick said that he thought the site plan was a “step in the right direction.”

Caron said he would have preferred that the windows on the front of the building, which faces Nine Mile Road, were all clear, like on neighboring buildings that just have tinted windows facing Harper Avenue.

Chang said, however, that the business planned to install drywall behind the windows to allow for the layout that the chain has in other stores.

“This is how we build out and lay out our stores, and this is what our customers are used to,” he said. “We compromised with the two transparent windows they could see into. We carry a lot of inventory in our stores, so we need the space.”

Councilwoman Candice Rusie said that she thought the plan was a “decent compromise.”

She pointed out that many businesses in the city have closed blinds on their windows, so no one can see into those either, and blinds are not regulated by city ordinance.

“I don’t know anyone who can see through drywall,” she said. “I think this represents a good compromise.”