Mill Creek Outdoor Adventures, The Alley Redevelopment Approach Final Approval

Two more developments are rounding the local regulatory bend this week after receiving final site plan approval from the Dexter Planning Commission Monday night — Mill Creek Outdoor Adventure Center and the office redevelopment of 2830 Baker Road, a.k.a. The Alley (formerly Katie’s).

The owners of Mill Creek Outdoor Adventure Center, Nate Pound and Tyler Soja, were bullish about when they believe shovels can go into the ground to kick off construction of the much anticipated indoor and outdoor beer garden and accompanying canoe and kayak livery on the south-facing bank of Mill Creek.

“We’re planning on starting as soon as spring is here,” one of the owners called to the Planning Commission from the back of the Dexter Senior Center in response to Chairman Matt Kowalski’s asking the question after he and his colleagues reviewed the developer’s requested waivers for the west property line buffer, low quality tree replacement, and modified landscaping plan.

Both developments are being handled by A.R. Brouwer.

The zoning calls for 12 evergreen trees and 82 shrubs along a 438.75 lineal foot property line on the western end of the property where the 6,107 square foot facility will be built, which the west property line buffer would waive. Due to the first nearly 25 feet being a heavily wooded section and another 45 feet of the property line abutting the railroad right-of-way where the land slopes 18 feet at a 40 degree gradient, the developer believes this combination of natural screening is sufficient screening between the center and the Westridge subdivision.

The modified landscaping plan would waive the planting of eight evergreen trees and 54 shrubs along the 325 foot east property line was also submitted based on a 15 foot slope towards the Mill Creek streambank at 30 feet at a 50 percent slope. There are also woodlands, native plants, and other features that combined with the slope serve as a natural buffer between the center and Mill Creek Park to the east.

The planning commission approved these waivers along with the tree replacement waiver stipulating that the developer could remove good or fair condition trees that it has called out in the site plan as long as they are replaced with equivalents in accordance with the city’s ordinances. The developer identified 14 trees that the owners would like to see removed, including four in good condition, four in fair condition, and six in poor condition. The commission questioned the removal of two good quality trees outside of the ordinance requirements while six low quality trees are spared in the same area.

The commission also requested the removal of the Mill Creek Sporting Goods sign being called out in the site plan and specification of dimensions and other physical and material properties of new signs that will be erected as part of the development, which are currently lacking in the final site plan draft before the commission.

The included proposed sidewalk along Dexter-Pinckney/Main currently angles 90 degrees at a sharp point, which the commission requested being smoothed to a more gradual curve away from the curb to enhance pedestrian safety.

The new offices at 2830 Baker faced a greater number of requested changes as part of the final site plan review process before planning commission.

Parkings spaces for medial office space designated in the development called for an increase to 27 off-street parking spaces along Baker, while some of those have their warehouse parking space designation dropped.

The developer must also must reward description of a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals granted on December 19, 2016 to eliminate the requirement for a 10-foot wide landscape buffer screen along 176.99 feet of the north property line adjacent to 2844 Baker Road.

The ZBA granted the variance for a .5′ to 2.5′ buffer area instead, conditional upon the installation of bollards, that the variance only apply to the proposed building and could not be grandfathered into any future construction, addition of shrubbery within the landscape buffer, and sharing of access with the property to the north of 2830 should it too be redeveloped in the future.

Steve Brouwer spoke to the most significant change to the area around the building, which entails aligning a public sidewalk with the existing sidewalk in front of Dexter Pharmacy.

“It’s purely a request of the city council,” Brouwer told the commission.

Commissioner Marni Schmid, the owner of Dexter Pharmacy, politely requested notice when the sidewalk portion of the project begins construction so she can notify her customers, informing Brouwer that typically businesses are notified the night before that construction is happening the following morning at 8 a.m.

He promised to give her a weeks notice.

The sidewalk addition will require the removal of 180 feet of existing sidewalk along Baker, for which Brouwer must obtain temporary construction easements from Schmid and two other nearby property owners. The new sidewalk will conform with the city’s design standards for safety and aesthetics similar to other newer sidewalks in the community.

Similar new tree replacement standards included in the aforementioned development were also stipulated in the 2830 Baker final site plan as both included language and conformance in the plan itself.

The commission asked Brouwer to seek a variance for signage from the ZBA due to signs needed a 10 foot setback from all road rights-of-way and 15 feet from the edge of the main entrance. The location of the site in the site plan as presented is a little more than six feet from the front of the building.

The city is also allowing the developer to keep the sand volleyball court that exists on the property, but it must be reserved solely for building employees and staff.

Brouwer added that some of the bowling lane flooring from The Alley will be incorporated into the interior design of the building, in addition to some minor color and materials changes to the inside and outside of the building since the plan was last before the commission.

Both final site plans will be before the city council at next Monday’s March 13 meeting.

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