Samurai Steakhouse plan approved, without required parking

Downtown Farmington will soon have a new sushi restaurant, a Japanese steakhouse, 15 apartments – and a greater demand on parking.

Council members on Monday approved a preliminary site plan and Planned Unit Development (PUD) agreement for Samurai Hibachi & Sushi, located just east of Grove Street. An existing, two-story structure at at 32821 Grand River and a new, four-story building will be connected by a patio with outdoor seating.


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The agreement allows the developer to provide 31 new spaces on site, though the city’s zoning code requires a total of 91 for the restaurants and housing. The code gives officials an option to count public parking spaces located nearby to help meet the requirement, Economic and Community Development Director Kevin Christiansen said.

Samurai meets three conditions to qualify for the PUD, Christiansen said, with a pedestrian-oriented design, high quality architecture, and shared vehicle access between two buildings.

“The petitioner did make an attempt to see if there was a way to use adjacent private parking,” he said. “They’ve really taken a hard look at the best design for what this situation would be.”

Council member Maria Taylor during a pre-meeting study session and the regular meeting said some cities have required developers to build parking off-site or to pay an impact fee to mitigate parking deficits.

Taylor wanted to add one of those requirements to the PUD agreement, but city attorney Tom Schultz said that kind of condition would typically be negotiated with the developer.

“It’s kind of a bit hard to spring something on an applicant at a meeting,” he said. “Unless the language to be added to the agreement is just aspirational, I’m not sure you’d want to add something substantial.”

Taylor moved to table any action pending discussions with the developer; the motion failed for lack of a second.

Mayor Steven Schneemann pointed out that downtown Farmington hasn’t seen new retail construction in at least 20 years. He said the city will have deal with parking “in a bigger picture way,” adding that the advent of ride sharing services has made parking “a different kind of asset.”

Mayor Pro Tem Sara Bowman also noted that Xie Zheng LLC had invested thousands of dollars to preserve a historic barn on the property.

“That really shows me they want to be a strong community partner. What we are getting back is additional vibrancy in our downtown,” she said. “I think we’ve seen other businesses in town that we’ve made accommodations for that have not only survived but thrived. I’m very comfortable with this plan as presented.” 

“The community is ready for you to open,” council member Bill Galvin said. “I think it’s been duly noted… we need to keep talking about parking in downtown Farmington.”

The conditional plan and PUD agreement  were approved on a 4-1 vote; Taylor dissented.

“I’m not voting no because I think it is a bad development,” she said. “I just think there’s more work to be done to get this to a place where I would like to approve it. I think this was an opportunity that was missed.”

During the study session, officials asked Murphy to get the city’s parking committee involved in a review of current parking requirements.