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Auto agency plans postponed due to missing info

By Grace Lovins


The final site plan and design for a new LaFontaine Polestar sales agency was postponed by the Birmingham Planning Board on Wednesday, June 14, after the application was missing some important details.


Polestar, a high-end electric car brand, is proposing to completely renovate an existing building at 33866 Woodward Avenue – the former location of Blossom’s florists. A representative with LAG Development said Polestar will operate more like Tesla than Ford or Chrysler. Customers will be able to order and build their car online and the company will mostly deliver it to the customer’s house.


The representative explained there won’t be any outdoor sales, but the agency will keep about five cars for display or test driving. The agency also will not be offering any service, according to the representative, since all service is being handles by Volvo in Farmington. A public electric vehicle charger will also be moved from the company’s temporary location in Royal Oak to the outside of the building in Birmingham.


Planning director Nick Dupuis explained the plans met most requirements but lacked details for screening, lighting, loading and the glazing for the outside of the building.


The new auto agency also has a shortage of parking. Of 13 total required spaces, the existing parking lot only has 11, but the business intends to request three on-street parking spaces off Woodward from the city commission to count towards their total. Those three spaces will also need to be fixed up, which Polestar said they have no opposition to.


Dupuis said some of the missing details were submitted earlier in the day for lighting, screening and the loading area. A three-foot masonry screen wall will be installed on top of a parapet wall on the front and side of the building. The loading area will be 12-feet by 40-feet in the middle of the parking lot.


Lighting plans also show parking lot light levels, but Dupuis said the city still needs to see light levels at the property lines to make sure they don’t interfere with the residential area around the building.


On the outside of the building, Polestar is proposing all white aluminum composite material with four overhead doors and new front glazing. Two small Polestar logos will be placed on both sides of the building to face Woodward and Adams. Dupuis said the plans are missing details for the percentage of glazing which will need to be shown to make sure the design meets the ordinance.


Multiple board members said they liked the plan for the building but couldn’t look past the missing or late submission of details. Stuart Jeffares said he was bothered by not having finishing samples to look at since the board has had issues in the past with the proposed aluminum material on other buildings.


“The fact the plans were submitted today, to me, they don’t exist. We’re all full-time working people but we’ve reviewed this when we can, we reviewed it for several hours over the weekend, but getting something at 2:30 p.m. on a Wednesday to try and figure it out, to me they just don’t exist,” said chairperson Scott Clein.


Board members voted unanimously to postpone a decision on the site plan and design review and change the rules of procedure to add the item to the Wednesday, July 12, meeting. Polestar will have to come back with all the necessary details and samples of the materials going to be used for the building.

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