A request by DTE Energy to relocate overhead electrical wires and electrical poles for a proposed four-story mixed-use building on N. Old Woodward in Birmingham left city commissioners on Monday, July 10, confused by DTE's plans, where the poles would be moved to, which and how many trees would need to be removed, with the commissioners determining a site visit was a necessity before making any decision on the easement request.
DTE Energy had requested the easement for overhead energy lines which would necessitate moving an energy pole from one side of the Rouge River to the other behind the proposed site at 856 N. Old Woodward, south of Oak, known as the "hole in the ground," where the former Carrie Lee Chinese restaurant once stood. Developer Frank Simon received final site plan approval from the city's planning board for a four-story mixed-use building with two levels of underground parking, which will consist of first floor retail and three stories of high-end apartments.
City engineer Paul O'Meara told commissioners that the "Property's had it's difficulties. It's had flood plains, and it does have electrical wires through it that need to be moved. We've been working with DTE and the developer."
An electrical pole currently sits in a flood plain on the property, in the construction zone. DTE sought to move it to an adjacent property on Woodward.
Joe Jacunski, a manager with DTE, said, "The pole cannot remain, even though it is not in direct conflict with the building, it would not be in code compliance."
Planner Jana Ecker explained, "You can't build the building as it's designed because the pole supports the north/south electrical line heading into downtown. Many different options were explored. We have looked at every possible option for months. Ultimately, this pole has to be moved, and (other) poles have to be relocated across the river, to the back (of the new Art Van building) at 35975 Woodward in what will be their parking area. There will need to be some loss of trees."
Jacunski said, "If you take out the pole, or if a tree falls, you take out power for a day or so to this whole north area of Birmingham.
She said there had been discussion about burying the lines, which would alleviate lines running over Douglas Cleaners at the corner, but there would be a greater loss of trees.
Commissioners did not have a clear picture of how many trees would be lost to the easement, and commissioner Patty Bordman recommended that they tour the property and "have someone knowledgeable show us every tree that will be removed. The map and the whole proposal is very confusing."...continued on page 2