Primrose Child Care okayed after hot debate
By Dana Casadei
After much debate at the Wednesday, January 3, Bloomfield Township Planning Commission meeting, an initial failed vote of 3-3, and more debate, the recommendation of the special land use and site plan request for Primrose Day Care finally passed, 5-1, with commission member Richard Atto the lone vote against.
Atto said while he liked the idea of the project and what it would bring to the community, he simply could not vote yes without knowing what potentially could be happening to the southern part of the parcel, which is vacant in the Primrose Child Care Center site plan.
Primrose Child Care has been in business for 40 years around the country
“All I’m saying is we’ll look like fools when somebody comes in and says we can’t do this, we can’t do that… I just have a problem with it,” Atto said.
The property owner, EIG14T MI Bloomfield LLC, has plans to market that part of the parcel – located at 6255 Telegraph Road – for sale.
Any future proposals would be required to go through the same requirements as Primrose, with a site plan application to be reviewed by the planning commission and eventually approval from the township board.
This was brought up by multiple board members who had voted yes.
“All that’s being presented is the Primrose project, everything to the south is irrelevant,” said Neal Barnett, planning commission and board of trustee member. “It could be like it doesn’t exist as far as I’m concerned.”
Planning commission member Jeff Salz agreed, pointing out what they were discussing as reasons to vote no for the site plan is not what the planning commission is for.
“It’s to make sure codes are met, it’s to make sure traffic is proper, and other things. But not things about the future of what may happen down the road or how it could be redeveloped in the future or things that are not in the code,” Salz said. “It would be improper for us to deny something on something we’re not authorized to regulate.”
“It’s our job to approve those proposed projects that enhance our community, and this service… is telling us this is a need that needs to be met,” said member John Kelly, who was sworn in at this meeting.
The future of the southern part of the parcel wasn’t the only part of the site plan that caused a divide among the planning commission members.
The exclusion of a generator in the site plan also brought up some heated discussion, with multiple board members doing their best to insist it be added given how often the township loses power, and one calling it a big mistake to not have it included.
Out of the 450 Primrose locations nationwide none of them have generators, according to Bradford Egan, development manager, for EIG14T. They’ve also been in business for 40 years, earning themselves high esteem across the country. The child care center is proposed to be one story and 13,525-square-feet, taking over the space that was previously occupied by St. Andrews Church before it was demolished. It will be open Monday through Friday for children ages six month to six-years-old.
According to Andrea Bibby, deputy director of planning building and ordinance for Bloomfield Township, there aren’t many changes coming to the parcel, except for the removal of the northerly curb cut to the site, a request from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).
“From an experience standpoint of 40 years and over 400 locations I’m sure they’ve run into areas that don’t have the best electricity in regards to during storms…” Kelly said. “I will leave it up to them if it’s a priority.”
Egan did point out that while there were no plans for a generator, if the power were to go out there that fire code requires they have backup battery lighting that comes on immediately.
This seemed to slightly ease the minds of the other board members who voted no, Salz and chairman Thomas Petinga, who did vote yes the second time, passing the request.
While the commission didn’t agree on all aspects of this site plan, many were excited about the fact that adding this type of business indicates younger families are moving to the community.
Prior to the planning commission meeting this site plan had already been reviewed by various departments, including the design review board, and nothing of concern was found, especially in regards to the noise.
Given the building’s proposed material and coloring, members of the planning commission agreed it will fit in nicely, keeping consistent with the design and architectural nature of the township.
As for the child care center itself, the inside will consist mostly of classrooms and a warming area to provide snacks.
The facility is proposed to have 202 prospective students and 27 staffers, who will direct bringing the children in with their tried and true method of having their guardian park and then walk them to the front of the building from one of their 46 parking spaces, which meets the parking requirement.
The outside site will have a massive play area of over 9,000-square-feet, far above what is required for special land uses in the R-M Multiple Family District standards.
It was shown that they will not just have one play area either, but three, each designated for a different age group with age-specific play structures for the children, including a rock wall in one of them, which will be screened in. The outside area is also where most of the five variances for the plan are needed, including for fencing in the front yard, fencing in the rear yard exceeding four feet in height, and for play equipment located in a side yard.
Kelly said if he was on the zoning board of appeals – where this site plan will go next – he would give them the go-ahead for all five variances.
If the variances pass the ZBA, the site plan request will go to the Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees for approval.