Proposed bakery has nearby businesses threatening lawsuit

All involved hope to resolve parking issue

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published February 18, 2015


ROYAL OAK — Crispelli’s managing partner Mark Artinian said he was blindsided last week when what he thought would be a straightforward pitch for a new downtown bread bakery turned into a threatened lawsuit over a parking lot.

“This is a surprise to me,” Artinian said. “The agreement that I had through the owner of the building was that (parking) was attached.”

Artinian and architect Roman Bonislawski, of Ron and Roman Architects, spoke before the Royal Oak Planning Commission during the Feb. 10 meeting, describing the bakery and wholesale bread baking facility Crispelli’s would like to open at the former Animal Care Hospital on North Main Street, just south of Catalpa, next to the Inn Place.

Attorney Russell R. Wise, of Wise & Wise Attorneys & Counselors, spoke before the commission on behalf of his clients, Rose Marie Floyd and Bonnie Bourque.

“The problem we have, quite frankly, is the parking,” Wise said. “The four entities in the buildings just north of the parking lot have been using this parking lot for up to 50 years or more. By law, that is restrictive easement, and based on that alone, we have a major problem with the parking.”

Businesses using the proposed Crispelli’s parking lot are Rose Marie Floyd Studio of Dance, Alterations Etc., Elandt Tax Service and Sands Barber Shop.

“Without this parking, we will all go out of business,” said Bonnie Bourque, owner, operator and barber at Sands Barber Shop. “We will not be able to make it.”

Sands Barber Shop, located just north of the proposed Crispelli’s, has been in business in Royal Oak since 1944.

“We’ve used that parking lot all these years, and it would be extremely difficult to lose that parking,” said Leonard Elandt, owner of Elandt Tax Service.

Royal Oak Director of Community Development Tim Thwing said the city does not get involved with restrictive easement lawsuits.

“That is a court matter between private property owners and the city is not involved in it. And if businesses or property owners feel they have some right or claim against another private property owner, they have to litigate that out,” Thwing said.

Thwing said from the city planning perspective, all spaces are counted as Crispelli’s.

The Royal Oak Planning Department said the proposed retail and wholesale bread bakery would need 51 parking spaces dedicated for its business.

Artinian made it clear that he doesn’t think he needs all of the parking spaces and wants to be a good neighbor and share. He went before the Planning Commission hoping to receive approval to go to the Zoning Board of Appeals to waive 21 of the required spots, resulting in a 30-spot requirement, which is what the parking lot contains to the north and west of the building.

Artinian said, in reality, he feels the business would need much less than the 30 parking spots and reiterated that he would share with nearby businesses.

Bonislawski said fewer spots would be needed because the business would be a quick, in-and-out space for bread buying, possibly serving some people who would stay for a cup of coffee and a pastry. The space would offer some indoor and outdoor seating and the proposed hours would be from about 7 a.m.-6 p.m. during the week with earlier closings on the weekends.

Although the proposed 6,000-square-foot bakery would offer a storefront for customers to come in and buy artisan bread and pastries, Bonislawski said the main operation and use of the business would be as a wholesale baking facility. Artinian said he would like to move his bread-baking facility out of his Berkley restaurant on Woodward Avenue and move to a manufacturing facility to service his two restaurants.

Mayor Jim Ellison said this is a unique business with unique needs and a unique parking  issue.

“We’ve got a complex problem that probably has a simple solution; I just don’t know what that simple solution is,” he said. 

Ellison said that the parking area used to be a public lot and, at some point, was changed to private property. He said that in doing so, the spaces were taken away from the businesses to the north.

Members of the Planning Commission agreed it is a unique business proposal and gave Artinian approval to appear before the Zoning Board of Appeals to request a parking variance resulting in fewer required spots.

Artinian said he hopes the issue of required and shared parking will be resolved. Artinian said he’s been in business for about 28 years and has enjoyed good relationships with his neighbors.

“It would not be my intention to affect their business in any way,” he said.