A special land use request to expand new vehicle display parking to the east side of Van Dyke Avenue, across the street from the Ed Rinke Chevrolet Buick GMC dealership, was passed by the Center Line Planning Commission May 16.

A special land use request to expand new vehicle display parking to the east side of Van Dyke Avenue, across the street from the Ed Rinke Chevrolet Buick GMC dealership, was passed by the Center Line Planning Commission May 16.

File photo by Brian Louwers


Rinke car lot expansion east of Van Dyke approved

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published May 20, 2019

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CENTER LINE — The Center Line Planning Commission voted last week to approve a plan that would bring vehicle display lots, parts storage and a sales office to the east side of Van Dyke Avenue, directly across from the Rinke car dealership.

The 6-3 vote to approve a special land use request came during a raucous meeting May 16, when commission members heard from several neighbors opposed to the project, planned for commercial property directly across from Ed Rinke Chevrolet Buick GMC, between Sunburst Street to the north and Helen Street to the south.

The plan includes a proposed office and parts storage building in the existing structure on the northeast corner of Helen. The adjacent auto parts retailer and barbershop would remain. The U.S. Post Office building would remain unchanged on the southeast corner of Busch Street and Van Dyke. The existing law office would be repurposed for a sales office and parts storage space, while three buildings to the north of that would be demolished.

Roy Rose, of the engineering firm Anderson, Eckstein & Westrick, represented Rinke at the meeting and said there would be 119 parking spaces for displaying vehicles, plus customer parking and spaces to accommodate the remaining businesses. Rose said the plan would include lighting that complies with the city’s ordinances.

Approval was also subject to compliance with a list of planning amendments, including the addition of a 6-foot decorative concrete wall on the eastern border of the property, adjacent to residential homes. Final approval is contingent upon two variances that will be required through Center Line’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

During the public hearing before the vote, residents laid out concerns ranging from traffic safety on Van Dyke and the affected side streets, to customer parking, adjacent property values and aesthetics.

Maria Zardis, who said she is a 25-year resident of the city, asked whether the project was worthy of special land use approval.

“You break the rules, the planning rules and the master plan that you’ve put together, because something is so extraordinarily wonderful that you’re going to make a special use approval,” Zardis said. “Is more cars for sale on Van Dyke really going to contribute to our community?

Resident Fran Danese lives on Helen and said the lights from the dealership on the west side of Van Dyke are already bad enough. She said she would be “greatly affected” by the development on the east side.

Mayor Robert Binson was one of the six votes in favor of the project and seemed to cast his vote reluctantly, given the state of the property, the lack of other interest in developing the land and Rinke’s willingness to do something with it.

Center Line City Manager Dennis Champine said previously that Rinke acquired the properties under an LLC in 2017. In December 2017, a variance to allow parts storage in two existing buildings was sought through the ZBA but was later withdrawn by the petitioner.

“Do I want another car lot? I don’t think so,” Binson said before the vote was taken. “The city isn’t a chessboard where I can put pieces where I want to. It’d look a lot different than it does. We are at the mercy of the people who want to spend their money and develop this city.

“Is it the best thing? No. Is it better than what’s there? Absolutely,” Binson said.

Planning Commission Chairman John Hanselman echoed those comments.

“What does a no (vote) mean? Does no mean Panera Bread will open up on Van Dyke? No,” Hanselman said. “Does voting no mean there’s going to be a dog park with slides and something really cool? No. No means what’s right there today. What you see today is the result of a no vote.”

City Councilman Ron Lapham, one of three ex-officio members on the commission, voted against approval of the special use, along with commission members Ron Coleman and Pat Pockrandt.

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