This 11-acre site on Tower Drive,  zoned office mixed use in accordance with the city’s master plan,  promotes infill of sites like this.

This 11-acre site on Tower Drive, zoned office mixed use in accordance with the city’s master plan, promotes infill of sites like this.

File photo by Donna Agusti

Planning Commission pauses plan for retail center on Tower Drive

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published January 9, 2019


TROY — The Troy Planning Commission paused plans for a retail development and drive-thru window on 11 parking-lot-heavy acres on Tower Drive, at Crooks Road, so the developer could address foot traffic concerns in the proposed development.

The Planning Commission unanimously postponed the preliminary site plan and approval for a special use, needed for a drive-thru window, at its Dec. 11 meeting.

The Troy City Council unanimously approved a rezoning for the parcel from a research center district to an office mixed-use zoning in 2017. The Planning Commission had unanimously recommended approval of the rezoning.

Ben Carlisle, of Carlisle/Wortman Associates, the city’s planning consultant, told the Planning Commission on Dec. 11 that the city’s standards for approval of the special use had been met.

He said that the proposed development would be a “very good addition to the mixed-use office and commercial area.”

The proposed 9,844-square-foot, four-unit building “should not add to the existing traffic in the area,” Carlisle said.

Larry Goss, a spokesman for the developer, Core Partners, told the Planning Commission that they are targeting a Panera Bread restaurant and other retail businesses for the site.

“Many potential tenants find the drive-thru attractive,” Goss said. “We don’t have any tenants in hand.”

Planning Commissioner Michael Hutson said that while he was conflicted on the placement of the building, which could be moved to allow more parking in the front of the building, off of Crooks Road, “it looks like a great plan and great project.”

Carlisle told the Planning Commission that although revisions to the site plans could be reviewed administratively, “you would probably want to see it again. It would significantly alter the site plan.”

“I’m not convinced that having a drive-thru is a necessity,” said Planning Commissioner Karen Crusse. She added that there is a safety issue with walking through a drive-thru to get inside the building.

Planning Director R. Brent Savidant said that planners recommended that the developer provide a pedestrian connection from the office building to the development.

“There’s a lot of parking lots in Troy, and there’s not a lot of connectivity like this. The goal is for people to walk there, to not get in their car,” Savidant said.

“There’s a lack of amenities in this area, and this directly addresses the lack of amenities. This is a situation that’s better than most. … Are there large office buildings that lack this kind of direct connectivity? Yes,” Savidant said. “Most parking lots don’t have (proposed) pathways like this through them.”

The proposed plans feature a striped pedestrian crossing within the drive-thru lanes.

Planning Commission Chair Ollie Apahidean said that typical access through parking lots is through the drive aisles and spaces.

“From this layout, they’ve provided additional features to provide safety to pedestrians,” he said.

“Considering the time of year … I think there’s plenty of time to postpone this … give the applicant time to review it,” said Planning Commissioner Philip Sanzica. “I do feel uncomfortable if it’s unsafe for the pedestrians. There’s enough issues that have been brought up by the Planning Commission that are a concern to us.”

The next Planning Commission meeting was scheduled for Jan. 8.