Schoolcraft Planning Commission Debates Wind & James

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Jamie Clark was quizzed by the Schoolcraft Planning Commission about meeting deadlines for parking spaces to be constructed on the property at 555 W. Eliza Street.

By Sue Moore

Schoolcraft’s Planning Commission asked Jamie Clark for more information about a fire suppression system in his proposed Wind & James event center at 555 W. Eliza Street and gave him another 30 days before he can secure an occupancy permit for the building.

But planning commissioners were equally interested in his plans for the early elementary building he and his wife, Windy, have purchased on nearby Cass Street.

Clark asked to postpone that update, saying his wife was unable to attend; the project is near and dear to her heart. But he indicated the building would be converted into a multiple-family and that the building’s south wing could become an auxiliary to the Wind & James project.

Clark was asking the commission for an occupancy permit for that project although not all of the required spaces are complete. The parking will be needed because the couple is expecting to enlarge the developed space from 13,000 square feet with 10,000 more for local businesses to occupy. To accomplish this, the building inspector is requiring a sprinkler system for the entire building, an added cost but one which will enable the building to be fully leased. “We have replaced the electrical system, put LED lighting throughout along with the sprinkling plans. It was painful, requiring a six-figure investment, but over the long-term it is the right thing to do,” Clark told the commission.

Trustee Mae Pfost congratulated Clark on the gorgeous building and the art center and event space. However, the parking lot on the south side of the building has not been completed as required by the board and it was the major reason members were reticent to issue the occupancy permit. Wet weather has been a hindrance to pouring concrete, Clark said. Still, he added, the couple had been successful in getting the parking areas on the north and east finished by the deadline the commission had imposed in the spring. There are currently 122 parking slots prepared, 13 less than the desired number.

Cheri Lutz, village manager recommended the 30-day extension for obtaining the occupancy permit so Clark could return to the body in December with more information on the fire suppression system. Tim Brown, chair of the board, settled on waiting until next spring for the parking lot, acknowledging that concrete can’t be poured during the winter.

In other business, the commission reviewed the “Reroute” long-range planning for US-131 through the village over the last year with Wightman & Associate’s Jordan Parker. The next step is to re-visit the comprehensive land-use plan, the parks and recreation plan and prepare new zoning documents to accompany the master plan. This will enable the serious work to commence on the vision plan, according to Natalie Dean, the Wightman planner who will be consulting on the hard work ahead for the Planning Commission.

Brown alerted the board to the proposal to locate a Casey’s General Store on the corner of Eliza and Grand Street. That will be on the agenda for the December meeting. He cautioned that gas stations and convenience stores are not allowed in the central business district. The proposal would need a text amendment to locate on that corner, he said.

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