Farmington Planning Commissioners voted Monday to move forward plans that will bring a Tropical Smoothie Cafe to a Grand River shopping center, but with multiple conditions.
Most importantly, commissioners wanted assurances that the owner of the strip center would follow through with repairs to the existing building, in addition to putting up a 1700-square-foot building on the east side of the parking lot.
Consultant Matt Parks of OHM Advisors said while engineering and planning reviews found a number of issues that need to be addressed, none was serious enough to stop the project. Among the items he discussed were bringing sidewalks and ramps up to Americans with Disabilities Act standards and adding more detail about stormwater drainage, building materials, and building canopy clearances.
“Landscaping is the area that probably needs the most work,” Parks said. “What was submitted falls very much short of what was required.”
Plans show removal of 15 out of 16 trees in place along Grand River, which Parks said would be find but with additional landscaping features added. He suggested ornamental trees, a hedgerow, or landscape terrace. He also suggested plantings around the building.
The city’s Zoning Board of Appeals granted a variance that will allow for the removal of 37 parking spots and a reduction in the number of drive-through “stacking” spaces from the required 10 to seven. Parks said the reduction in parking spaces will likely improve circulation on the site and make some spaces more accessible.
One resident spoke during a public hearing on the proposal. Robert Kull lives on Whittaker Drive, not far from the center. He said that lighting from the center spills over into his neighborhood, an issue that the plan addresses.
“That’s been a problem for five years,” he said, adding that he doesn’t have confidence the property owner will address issues unless they’re brought up during the hearing.
Kull was also concerned about sound from the drive-through speakers, which are pointed toward the existing building and asked for a requirement that sound won’t carry into neighborhoods. Noting that visitors to the Panera restaurant east of the center park on Whittaker, he asked whether the city could restrict parking on the street.
Kull’s request that the approval include a restriction on business hours was part of the final motion for approval, along with a raft of other conditions that included items listed on the planning and engineering reviews.
“This is currently proposed as a Tropical Smoothie Cafe, but it may be something different in the future,” he said.
Planning Commissioner Steve Majoros asked whether the commission had control over business hours. Economic and Community Development Director Kevin Christiansen said commissioners could add “any reasonable conditions it deems necessary. That can certainly include things like how a business operates, hours of operation included. You have that latitude as a planning commission.”
Majoros also asked whether the commission could make improvements to the existing building a condition of approval for the outbuilding. However, World Wide Center representative John Moran said the work must be done concurrently, in order to complete the building on time for the new tenant.
He suggested making the improvements part of the scope of work for the building permits, so that Certificates of Occupancy would be “contingent on the full scope of the work.”
“We understand the safeguard,” he said. “We just ask for consideration, so we can do it, in both cases, sooner than later.”