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Lavery dealership to replace current buildings

By Grace Lovins

Fred Lavery Porsche, at 34350 Woodward Avenue in Birmingham, was given a thumbs-up from the Birmingham Planning Board on Wednesday, October 26, to move forward with a site plan for a new three-story development following a review of a community impact study and preliminary site plan.

The current dealership development occupies two land parcels in the city’s Triangle District where Elm Street meets Haynes Street next to Woodward Avenue. Fred Lavery, the owner of the dealership, is proposing to demolish the existing dealership, which currently occupies two buildings, and construct a new three-story structure.

Birmingham Senior Planner Brooks Cowan noted the planning department had concerns over traffic and circulation in the area, namely an issue with the placement of a pedestrian crossing on Elm Street in relation to the site’s proposed service drive. The service drive in the site plan would face the Elm Street crosswalk. A revised plan was submitted that showed the crosswalk moved to the south, which would be out of the way of the service drive, however Cowan noted that moving the crosswalk closer to Woodward may not be the best option.

Cowan and the planning department suggested the issue with the Elm Street crosswalk should be reviewed by the city's multi-modal transportation board, which could provide recommendations on how to adjust the layout of the plan to enhance vehicular and pedestrian safety. He also said that no issues were found in the community impact study related to noise, air, refuse, geotechnical and environmental impact.

Chairperson Scott Clein noted that, with plans to have the multi-modal transportation board take a look at the issue with the Elm Street crosswalk, he is comfortable accepting the community impact study.

“We’ve identified the issues and we’ve heard from [Julie Kroll] that the development itself is not going to generate trips that are going to cause issues,” Clein said. “I’m far more comfortable moving forward with accepting [the study] without the final traffic because of that fact.”

Following the acceptance of the community impact study, the board reviewed the preliminary site plan which satisfied the requirements, according to Cowan, with the Elm Street crossing still the main subject of concern. Cowan also noted that a power line and streetlamp will need to be relocated, and the service drive will need to be pushed back from the property line to meet the requirements for sidewalk length.

Details about the building materials and location of entrances for the development were looked at but will be more closely reviewed during the final site plan and design review.

While the preliminary site plan met requirements aside from the issue around placement of the Elm Street crosswalk, the board and Lavery noted that the plan has an excess of parking, with 155 total spaces provided. Lavery told the board that The Porsche Company requires him to maintain a certain number of parking spaces, although he said he would be terminating surface parking he currently leases from the 555 Building and the lot to the north of the property where a test-track used to be, which would allow for more public parking in the area.

Board members voted 6-0 to accept the community impact study and voted 5-1 to approve the preliminary site plan with certain conditions to be met before the final site plan and design review, with Daniel Share voting against the approval of the site plan. Alternate board member Jason Emerine took the place of board member Bert Koseck, and Janelle Boyce left the meeting before a motion was made.


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