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Grosse Pointe Farms council approves parking restriction signs for new urgent care

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published January 29, 2020

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Officials at the new Beaumont Urgent Care facility at 18700 Mack Ave. hope that new signs in their parking lot will send drivers a clear message: If you aren’t a patient here, you need to park somewhere else.

Representatives from the new medical facility appeared before the Grosse Pointe Farms City Council Dec. 9 to seek a variance that would enable them to put up signs in their parking lot to let motorists know the spaces are for patient use only.

In a memo, Public Service Director Matthew Baka said the city’s sign ordinance allows for 1 square foot of signage for every linear foot of frontage; for the Beaumont facility, that meant 51.33 square feet of signage would be permissible.

The council had already granted the facility an exception in July so that it could install three building signs totaling 82 square feet, Baka wrote. Officials with the urgent care facility were now asking for eight additional signs that would collectively total 21 square feet, bringing the total to 103 square feet — or about twice as much as was permissible under the sign ordinance.

Carol Misch, the manager for the Farms urgent care, said a neighboring athletic facility’s patrons were using most of the spaces in the urgent care lot, making it difficult or impossible for sick or injured patients to park nearby.

“We want to be a valuable service to the community … but in order to do that, we have to provide parking,” Misch said.

Ed Phillips, president of Phillips Sign & Lighting Inc., said the clinic was facing a “very challenging parking situation,” despite the fact that the building’s landlord owns the parking lot directly behind Beaumont Urgent Care; the lot has eight regular spaces and two handicap spaces. Phillips said patients need to be able to park as close as possible to the entrance, but many have trouble finding a space in the lot because customers of nearby businesses are occupying those spaces.

“We did not do this with disregard for the Grosse Pointe Farms sign ordinance,” Phillips said.

Misch said that when they put up parking restriction signs, it reduced parking problems, but then they were told by city officials that they needed to take down the signs.

“I understand this property stood vacant for a number of years and people got used to using it for overflow,” Misch said. For the new medical facility, it’s “a huge, huge issue.”

However, in their report, the city’s planners at McKenna called the request “excessive,” and city officials like City Councilman Lev Wood agreed.

Mayor Louis Theros suggested they come up with a compromise, acknowledging the need for an urgent care facility to provide nearby parking.

“My only problem is, you guys have put a lot of stuff on the wall,” Theros said of the already approved signs on the front, back and side of the building.

Officials noted that the restricted parking signs are only effective if motorists know there are real consequences.

“My wife has used this facility,” City Councilman Neil Sroka said. “It’s super. … (But) if you’re going to have this restricted parking, it’s got to be enforced.”

Farms Public Safety Director Daniel Jensen said that because the parking lot is on private property, his officers can’t just show up and write parking tickets. He said officials with Beaumont Urgent Care would need to call police and file a signed complaint for police to take any action.

Various officials suggested Beaumont Urgent Care might want to hire a security guard to monitor the parking lot, at least during hours when demand for parking in that area is at its peak.

Farms resident Neil Gunderson, who lives near the facility, said Beaumont has “been a good neighbor” and improved the property that was once home to the Golden Dragon restaurant. He said he wasn’t opposed to parking restriction signs, but asked that there be fewer signs than the urgent care representatives were seeking and asked that the signs be shorter — both issues the council took into account.

“I’m in favor of them being able to enforce their parking,” Gunderson said.

The council voted 6-1 in favor of allowing the following as far as parking restriction signs: three sign poles can be installed in the parking lot but must be mounted plumb, feature protective plastic bollards at the base of the poles and cannot be taller than 5.5 feet. Wood, who still felt the facility was seeking too much signage, cast the no vote.