Neighbors object to new Farmington Burger King

Farmington planning commissioners won’t hold a public hearing until next month on a proposed Burger King, but neighbors said Monday they don’t feel the fast food restaurant is a fit for the site.

Carrols Burger King
Ronn Nadis, an attorney with Farmington Hills-based Couzens Lansky, and Amanda Aldridge, real estate manager for Carrols, talk about Burger King plans during Monday’s Farmington Planning Commission meeting.

Carrols Corporation, the country’s largest Burger King franchisee, plans a 3,065-square-foot, one story building at the corner of Grand River and Lakeway. Drive-through restaurants are allowed under the site’s zoning, but only with a special land use permit that requires a public hearing.

Commissioners voted to set that hearing on July 8, 7 p.m., after Carrols representatives provided a brief overview of their current plan. An existing building, formerly a home health care business (and before that, a bank), will be demolished, and an access point on Lakeway will be removed, so that the entrance and exit are both on Grand River.

Engineer Mark Mathe of Mannik Smith Group said screening on the north side will include a shrubbery line, a four-foot-high masonry wall, and trees.

Burger King plans
Plans for the proposed Burger King show a masonry wall, shrubbery, and trees to the north and landscaping on the east side as a buffer.

Mathe said recommendations in a letter from city engineering consultant OHM  Advisors had not been worked into the plan but would be before the public hearing. He added, “There are none of the comments in that letter that we take issue with.”

’Part of the Grand River thoroughfare’

Ronn Nadis, an attorney with Farmington Hills-based Couzens Lansky, said the site is designed to ultimately be separated from the neighborhood.

“We’ve done that by encircling the site with landscaping features…to have it be an element that is part of the Grand River throughfare and not Lakeway,” he said.

Planning Commission Chair Ken Crutcher asked whether lights and noise from menu boards and speakers would spill over. Mathe said Burger King’s speakers are designed with volume that varies depending on surrounding noise levels.

Amanda Aldridge, real estate manager for Carrols, said the lighting and sound impacts could be shown in 3-D models during the public hearing.

“Light and sound coming into the neighborhood will always be a concern,” Crutcher said. “Anything that comes between the location and the neighborhood will mitigate that.”

Public comment

During public comment at the end of the meeting, several residents shared concerns that included storm water drainage, traffic from Farmington High School, the danger of left-hand turns onto Grand River, and the noise, light, and smells that would come from the site.

Lakeway resident Hallie Bard, who lives across the street, quoted a section of the city’s zoning code that explained the intent of the C-2 district “is to concentrate businesses that harmonize with the character of the surrounding uses, and to prohibit uses that might create traffic hazards, offensive noises and late hours of operation.”

“Burger King as a business directly contradicts 100 percent of what the city has laid out,” she said. “I just don’t see how that harmonizes at all.”

What’s next

Christiansen said the city would forward concerns to the applicant and noted representatives remained in the audience to hear public comments. Following the July 8 public hearing, commissioners may approve the permit unconditionally or with conditions, table it for further discussion, or deny the permit.

Christiansen said anyone who feels aggrieved may challenge their decision in court.

Commission Vice Chair Steve Majoros told residents their letters have been read and asked that they “please be respectful with your time and our time… because I think the more time we have with the applicant, the better off we’ll be. We’re coming to this prepared as well.”

Plans submitted for Monday’s meeting, the OHM Advisors review, and other project documents are posted on the city’s website. The city’s zoning ordinances and special land use permit requirements are also posted at farmgov.com