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Primrose Day Care approved after mixed response

By Dana Casadei

A proposal for Primrose Day Care led to a heated decision at the board of trustees meeting on Monday, April 8, ultimately resulting in a vote of 5-2 for the approval of the day care’s site plan and special land use request. 

“I’ve been pretty vocal about being against this project since the beginning,” said trustee Neal Barrnett. “However, based on the history and background, variances from the zoning board of appeals, and the fact that they have the approval essential for the outdoor area of the playground, and as far as the parking goes, they met our statute… with all that said, they met the criteria. I don’t like it; I don’t think it’s a great project; I think they could’ve done a better job. But as far as I’m concerned, based on the ZBA decision, and based on what they’ve presented to us, it’s legal. 

“As much as I would like to vote no on this, I think if we turn it down it’s probably going to go to circuit court,” he continued. “And I don’t think we’re going to prevail. So, with that said, I would have to reluctantly support this project.”

Barnett was one of the five who did vote in approval of the site plan and special land use, which had already been reviewed by various departments, including the design review board.

The child care center is set to be one story over 13,525-square-feet at 6255 Telegraph Road, 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. 

There aren’t many changes coming to the parcel itself, except for the removal of the northerly curb cut to the site, a request from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

Before the evening’s vote, Andrea Bibby, deputy director of the planning, building & ordinance department, and Bradford Egan, development manager, for EIG14T, the property owner, discussed the changes that had been made to the site plan since they were last in front of the board of trustees in February. At that winter meeting a motion was made to table the approval after it was discovered that a township zoning ordinance in which each child is supposed to have 100-square-feet of outdoor play area would not be fulfilled by the daycare’s 9,400-square-feet of outdoor play area. 

Given that Primrose Day Care could have as many as 202 prospective students and 27 staffers, they would actually need 20,000-square-feet of outdoor play area to satisfy the ordinance. In February, it was trustee Chris Kolinski who did the math, discovering the failure to comply with the zoning ordinance. 

Since that winter board of trustees meeting, EIG14T went before the zoning board of appeals in March, asking for a variance. They provided the ZBA with a play schedule for each age group, and stated that based on the rotation of play times per classes, at no given time would there be more than 44 children in the outside play area at once, therefore complying with the zoning ordinance. 

The ZBA did grant that variance at the March 12 meeting after the information – which also included the policies and procedures for Primrose programming – was presented. 

While this new playground schedule seemed to ease the minds of many board of trustee members, Kolinski was not one of them, stating that even with this variance it still does not follow the 100-square-feet within the ordinance.

The ZBA took the entire 9,400-square-feet into account when passing the variance, and not the individual play areas for each age group, which is once again below 100-square-feet per child. Kolinski noted that each child doesn’t have full access to that 9,400-square-feet area, but only their specific designated area of outdoor play. 

But, as pointed out by township Attorney Derk Beckerleg, as much as they may have wanted to, nothing could be done about the playground by the board of trustees because it had already been approved by the ZBA.

“We gave up that right because the ZBA decided this… the size of the playground is off the table for us,” said supervisor Dani Walsh after the size of the playground was brought up by multiple trustees.

Kolinski was not the only one with issues in regards to the site plan and special land use request. Trustee Valerie Murray also wished that the outdoor play area was bigger, noting that there’s extra space in the southern parcel of the property for more playground.

The southern parcel of the property was a point of contention at the planning commission’s meeting on January 3, where it was discussed at length. 

Originally, property owner EIG14T MI Bloomfield LLC, had plans to market that part of the parcel – located at 6255 Telegraph Road – for sale, but at this time, it is not being actively marketed, although Kolinski mentioned it was still up on multiple sites as for sale. 

Any future proposals for the southern parcel would require it 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. 

Another area of concern that was brought up during the board of trustees was the proposed parking plan for Primrose. 

Only 46 parking spots are proposed in the lot, which meets the parking requirement, but Murray said that with the potential of 27 employees, half of those spots would already be taken by staff. 

Primrose’s policy is that each child’s guardian must park then walk to the front of the building with the child that they’re dropping off, a tried and true method for the day care, and one that is run very successfully at other day cares with the same number of parking spots, according to Egan. 

“What’s to prevent parents from double parking?” Murray asked. “It’s a safety issue…what’s to stop backing up on Telegraph Road?”

Trustee Stephanie Fakih – who ended up making the motion for the approval of the site plan and special land use – pointed out that Primrose didn’t need a parking variance, what they have in the plan is satisfactory with the ordinance. 

“We’re just creating hypotheticals now that we don’t even know are going to happen,” Fakih said. 

In the end both Kolinski and Murray voted against the project, with the votes totaling 5-2 in approval of the site plan and special land use being granted. 


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