MONROE - The Frenchtown Township Planning Commission Board will discuss and may vote tonight on the tentative site plan for a proposed 220,000-square-foot Wal-Mart SuperCenter along North Telegraph Road.
If the township planning commission approves the site plan, it could go before the township board for a vote at its Oct. 24 or Nov. 21 meeting, according to Supervisor James McDevitt.
The board gave its initial approval to rezone about 25 acres along North Telegraph Road in March, but the plan was tabled later that month because of traffic concerns and wetland issues.
Wal-Mart has recently purchased five additional acres on the north side of the site on which it will "create" wetlands in response to concerns of residents and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, according to Damon Garrett from Atwell-Hicks, an Ann Arbor land development consulting firm hired by Wal-Mart.
"We will build retention ponds and wetlands on them," said Mr. Garrett. "We are creating them to mitigate the loss of wetlands on the other parcels."
Mr. McDevitt said the previous concerns about traffic congestion will be alleviated by the proposed 2010 widening of North Telegraph Road.
The site is across Telegraph and slightly north of Wal-Mart's current 125,000-square-foot store, which opened in 1992.
SuperCenters offer the traditional wares of smaller Wal-Mart stores along with full-line grocery stores.
Wal-Mart would look to sell its current store immediately after the SuperCenter is completed because "they don't like to keep dark stores," Mr. Garrett said.
"We started out with 6 parcels and those were all rezoned from light commercial in March," Mr. Garrett said. "Then recently we have purchased three new parcels and they are in the process of being rezoned."
Most recently, the township's planning commission unanimously approved Wal-Mart's request to rezone three parcels at 2284 and 2290 North Telegraph that have homes on them and a vacant parcel north of 2290 North Telegraph to general commercial use.
These parcels, which will primarily be used for the constructed wetlands, will go before the Monroe County Planning Commission for final approval on Nov. 8.
Mr. Garrett said he expects construction to start in the spring and expects the store to be completed by late 2007.
"We will be going back [tonight] to the planning commission to talk about a revised site plan," Mr. Garrett said. "And we anticipate getting final approval by the end of the year."
In Bedford Township, a similar Wal-Mart development project has ended up in court.
A lawsuit is still pending between Whitman Ford owner Jon Whitman and the township over a proposed Wal-Mart store at the corner of Lewis Avenue and Sterns Road.
In 2003, the Bedford Township board denied a rezoning request by Mr. Whitman, who planned to sell 30 acres to Wal-Mart for a 225,000-square-foot SuperCenter.
Mr. Whitman filed charges against the township, arguing that the denial of his rezoning request was illegal and he is asking the court for damages in excess of $25,000.
A trial against the township is scheduled to begin Dec. 7 in front of Judge Joseph Costello, Jr., of Monroe County Circuit Court.
Mr. Whitman said his contract with Wal-Mart has expired and that the retail company pulled out of the deal after his rezoning request was denied.
Contact Benjamin Alexander-Bloch
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