The Tawas City Planning Commission has approved several items as part of the process required of Dollar General, before the company can build a retail store in the municipality. The proposed development entails a 9,100-square-foot building and, if all stipulations are met, it would be constructed at 910 W. Lake St. (US-23), shown here.

TAWAS CITY – Although several requirements still have to be met in order to complete the process, Dollar General is eyeing Tawas City as the site of its next retail store.

The proposed development entails a 9,100-square-foot building, located at 910 W. Lake St. (US-23) in the municipality’s B-3 General Business Zoning District.

The new commercial construction and use request was discussed by the Tawas City Planning Commission, during their virtual meeting on Feb. 2.

Members approved the request, but it is contingent on a number of other items also being addressed.

If things continue moving along, and weather permitting, the construction is expected to be completed by this May, with an opening on or before Aug. 1.

The commission heard from Rodney Parrott, who submitted the application and attended the meeting on behalf of the development group which is working on the Dollar General project.

He said he is sure that the planning commission has seen these stores and are familiar with the layout. “This is the typical, 70-foot by 130-foot building layout.”

According to Parrott, the property is being purchased from Melissa Carlson, and the site measures approximately 1.25 acres.

“It’s 150 feet wide, which makes the layout a little challenging, which limits our parking,” he continued. “Thirty spaces is the typical Dollar General parking requirement, and that’s what we’re asking for with this zoning permit approval.”

Tawas City Manager Annge Horning, who also serves as the zoning administrator, told commission members that there is a lot of information associated with the request and that they did not have to make a decision that night. However, knowing that a variance will be needed for parking, she requested that they deny the parking plan that evening, in order to get this process started.

She explained that the zoning ordinance outlines one space per 160 square feet of usable floor area. Since the plan from Dollar General indicates that the sales area will be 7,220 square feet, this equates to 45 parking spaces.

Horning said the plan shows 30 parking spaces, which is not consistent with the zoning ordinance. Therefore, commission members would have to deny the parking layout of the proposal so that the developer can begin the variance application process with the zoning board of appeals (ZBA).

She said another variance she found involves the off of the highway right-of-way. The city requires a 10-foot setback from the street right-of-way line, and the plan only shows five feet.

Horning said she thinks part of this can be made up, though, because the parking spaces are all 20 feet and there is also a 24-foot maneuvering lane. “Our ordinance only requires a 20-foot maneuvering lane, so you can make up some of that difference within that four feet.”

Parrot said he believes they have enough room to move everything back another five feet. “I think we’re okay with that.”

As of the meeting, Horning advised that the city’s Department of Public Works (DPW) director was still reviewing some of the elevations and drainage. “So if there’s any action tonight, I would ask that it be contingent on him signing off on those things.”

In her report to the commission regarding the Dollar General request, she noted that the use is a permitted use as a retail store, as referenced in Section 12.02 A of the zoning ordinance.

With the property being situated in B-3, this requires a 20- foot front yard setback and a 20-foot rear yard setback. Horning stated that the proposed plan does meet these requirements.

The plan also satisfies such items as the loading and unloading space being located in the rear yard; the markings for the parking lot and necessary wheel stops meeting the requirements of the zoning ordinance; and the placement of the dumpster, which will be screened with a six-foot high fence, adhering to the ordinance.

As for signage, Horning said this will be handled under a separate permit and that it is not required by the planning commission. So, she recommended that the signs be specifically excluded from the approval.

Horning also explained that, in Section 23.05 A 1, there is a requirement for a  four-foot, six-inch wall or earth berm immediately adjacent to the parking area between a non-residential use and a residential district. “Although the property directly adjacent to this property is zoned as B-3, the use is grandfathered as residential and the house is located only 6.5 feet from the property line.”

Planning commission member, Tawas City Mayor Ken Cook, moved to approve the request subject to the various items outlined by Horning – such as denying the areas which require a variance, having the DPW director sign off on the drainage plans, excluding the building’s signage from approval and placement of the fence screening between this project and the adjacent residence.

Commission chairperson Mary Doak also serves on the ZBA, so she had to abstain from voting that evening, since she can’t vote on the same plan twice. But, she will be able to do so at the ZBA level.

With Doak abstaining, Cook’s motion received seven “yes” votes. Only six will be officially recorded, though, as one came from the commission’s youth representative, Cole Katterman.

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