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City Council Hesitates on Site Plan for Self-Storage Development in Livonia, MI

Update 5/9/16 – Some Livonia City Council members were disappointed in the site plan submitted by Michigan Property Group for the self-storage facility tabbed to replace Cloverlanes. The council appears to still favor the project but may decide more work on the design is needed when it addresses the project again on May 16, according to the source.

Update 5/9/16 – Some Livonia City Council members were disappointed in the site plan submitted by Michigan Property Group for the self-storage facility tabbed to replace Cloverlanes. The council appears to still favor the project but may decide more work on the design is needed when it addresses the project again on May 16, according to the source.

“This isn’t the building I expected to be taking a look in the site plan,” councilmember Maureen Miller Bosnan told D’Ascenzo during the study meeting. “I think some of the ideas and the concepts you had presented us with were so much higher-end looking originally than this.”

The developer indicated he is willing to address municipal concerns in the design. “Our concept is storage, so we do want it to look somewhat like retail storage,” D’Ascenzo said. “The original [design] we gave you was just plain. We’re willing to work with the city and work out the details on that.”

Some council members affirmed their support of the project but brought concerns raised by local residents. “I think it’s a very creative and productive use of this property,” Bahr said. “One concern that has been expressed to me by two of the neighbors—and I think it’s a legitimate concern—is that with that carport being right up against the wall, with heavy snowfall and things, what’s to keep stuff from coming off of that roof and into his yard?”

D’Ascenzo said the carports have been designed to accept some of the water from the gutters, so as snow melts, it will fall into the carport and parking lot, and away from residential backyards. He noted most of the neighborhood residents have given the project their approval.

The council could approve the site plan during the May 16 meeting or decide to send it back to committee for additional work, according to the source.

3/15/16 – The Livonia City Council approved the rezoning request from Michigan Property Group, which intends to replace the former Cloverlanes bowling alley with a self-storage facility. The council approved changing the zoning to light manufacturing from general business, despite opposition from the planning commission, according to the source.

“Everyone agrees that we want to see that building torn down as quickly as possible,” Meakin said during the meeting. “We worked with the petitioner to add numerous conditions to really make this work.”

Councilmember Scott Bahr agreed with Meakin’s assessment that the self-storage project will be positive for the city. “This is a really creative, first-class idea,” he said. “We’re often concerned with spot zoning, and some may see this as that. I don’t really see it as that with where it is.”

D’ascenzo must still submit a site plan for approval by the planning commission and council.

2/25/16 – Michigan Property Group has submitted additional conditions in its request to have the former Cloverlanes property rezoned to allow self-storage. The Livonia City Council discussed the zoning request during a public hearing this week, but sent the item back to committee without making a decision, according to the source. The council is expected to revisit the request on March 9.

Concessions put forth by D’ascenzo include restricting outdoor storage to only recreational vehicles and limiting lease terms on outdoor storage to month-to-month. The storage business wouldn’t allow tenants to occupy their RVs while in storage, and it would prohibit the storage of hazardous materials, among other conditions, the source reported.

“We will work with the planning department and the law department to finalize the rezoning agreement prior to the final approval,” D’ascenzo told the council. “We believe this project will be a great project for the city of Livonia and the community, and we ask for your support.”

Councilmember Brian Meakin expressed some support for the project as long as additional conditions are met. “When we do get the site plan, this council has made it pretty clear that they want the best of the best for Livonia,” he said during the hearing. “I believe this project will do that. It’s creative; it is thinking out of the box. This is a good move for the city of Livonia.”

Other councilmembers shared similar concerns to the planning commission’s previous objection. “Zoning for manufacturing right up against residential presents me with a lot of concern,” councilmember Maureen Miller Brosnan said. Brosnan asked for a resolution, sending the rezoning request back to committee for further discussion, according to the source.

D’ascenzo argued that “approximately 95 percent of the neighborhood” supports the project. At least one resident, Kevin Whitemarsh, spoke in favor of the self-storage facility during the hearing. “I support this. I’ve spent the last few years not being able to open my windows at night [due to the bowling alley],” he told the council. “I’d just like something that’s a little more low-key.”

2/1/16 – The Livonia, Mich., Planning Commission recently rejected a rezoning request from real estate developer Michigan Property Group LLC, which had intended to build a self-storage facility at 28900 Schoolcraft Road. Owner Ernie D’ascenzo proposed to demolish the former Cloverlanes bowling alley and replace it with 116,000 square feet of self-storage, according to the source.

The project would have required a change from general business to light industrial and also called for outdoor storage of recreational vehicles. The commission rejected the proposal, preferring to pursue other possible developments that fit the property’s current zoning designation, the source reported. “I think the site plan—the conceptual use we see for this property—is ideal for this particular site,” commissioner Ian Wilshaw said during the meeting. “A manufacturing zoning, while being the only option currently available, is not the appropriate zoning for this site.”

After turning down the zoning change, the commission voted to hold a public hearing to determine the best use for the property.

D’ascenzo had argued the self-storage facility would have fit in well with the community. “We believe the concept we have works really well for the community,” he told the commission. “It meets the criteria of a nice building in Livonia.” The developer said the building’s design would resemble an office building.

Opened in 1962, the bowling alley closed last year. D’ascenzo told commissioners the structure was not suitable for a storage conversion.

Planners rejected the zoning change despite support from several residents who spoke in favor of the self-storage project.


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