Warren residents speak out about businesses at planning meeting

By: Gena Johnson | Warren Weekly | Published July 24, 2023


WARREN — At a recent meeting of city planning officials, residents expressed their displeasure and sought to prevent two businesses from further impacting their neighborhoods.

During the audience portion of the Warren Planning Commission meeting on July 10, neighbors living on Cunningham and Le Fever avenues, near Hydro Depot in the 4500 block of Eight Mile Road, spoke about how they did not want the site plan for outdoor retail sales of gardening supplies to be approved for petitioner Vinson Bahri, who owns the business.

“This is a large-scale business that needs to be in a different location,” said resident Niki Becker. “We are fighting it for our neighborhood because that’s what we are, a neighborhood. We don’t want trucks and traffic racing up and down our street.”

Bahri was represented by attorney Robert Ihrie who spoke on his client’s behalf.

“We have the recommendation of the Planning Department with conditions. We have agreed to 100% of all the recommendations of the Planning Department,” said Ihrie. “The objections that have come forward to the Planning Commission have been essentially posed by a couple of people, maybe three, not all of which even live on the two streets that border this problem.”

According to the attorney, the two streets at issue are Cunningham and La Fever.

“The people showing up here, we are the people who live right there,” said Holly Fabian. “It is my house. It’s not your house.”

Ihrie spoke about how he canvassed the neighborhood to determine how residents felt about traffic in the neighborhood.

“I took it upon myself to ring doorbells and talk to people on Le Fever and talk to people on Cunningham, the two streets that are border (to the property),” Ihrie said. “I asked if they had any problems or concerns about car or truck traffic coming from Hydro Depot. (And) 100% of them said they had no problem, no concerns with respect to car traffic or truck traffic coming from Hydro Depot.”

Ihrie referred to Bahri as a “successful” and “honest businessman” that owns “six, seven, or eight businesses.”

“He (my client) is going to be a good corporate neighbor,” said Ihrie.

“He hasn’t been a good neighbor. If you are going to be a business in the neighborhood, you need to support the neighborhood,” said Warren City Planning Commission Secretary Warren G. Smith. “Because the neighborhood surrounds your business.”

The Planning Commission voted 4-1 to deny the petitioner’s request with discussion that was led by Smith.

“On your report, you said you talked to a lot of people up and down the street and nobody had a problem with it (car and truck traffic),” said Smith. “It is kind of interesting not one of them showed up.”

Smith also stated this has been going on for more than four years. He said the recommendations made to the petitioner have not been followed and that items are still being stacked higher than the 6-foot fence. In the Planning Commission’s recommendation, the fence on Cunningham should be closed at all times unless passenger vehicles are entering or exiting the yard.  According to Smith, every time he has been by Hydro Depot, the gate was not closed. He also noted that the petitioner is now requesting extended delivery days and times.

“They have been trying to encroach deeper and deeper in the neighborhood and it’s affecting the residents,” said Smith. “They don’t want it, moving closer and closer.”

Also on the Planning Commission’s agenda was a request for rezoning with conditions for two properties on 10 Mile Road. The first property is located on the north side of 10 Mile, about 326 feet east of Mound Road. The second property was formerly DeCarlo’s Banquet & Convention Center, on the south side of 10 Mile, east of Mound. According to Warren Planning Director Ronald Wuerth, a new storage unit facility and parking is planned for the site.

Residents wanted to know if it would be commercial or industrial storage. They were concerned about chemicals leaking and polluting their neighborhood.

Wuerth, along with the developer of the project, said it would be personal storage units. This did not calm the residents who were still concerned about the negative effects of a new business in their neighborhood.

Tina Hall, who has been in the neighborhood since 1972, said she feels as if the neighborhood is being “targeted right now.”

“There will be lights. There will be noise. There could be people in and out of there 24-7. This could attract more crime,” Hall said.

She also said her neighborhood was not represented at the meeting because the notice was sent around the Fourth of July weekend when many were out of town.

The vote for the hearing was postponed to Aug. 7, 2023.