Update On Residents Say, "Enough Is Enough": Grace/Cohassett Residents Win Some, Lose Some To Drug Mart
At last Thursday’s Planning Commission meeting, the commission heard Drug Mart’s appeal, and reversed its decision from the previous meeting. Drug Mart has been granted a conditional use permit and can tear down the apartment building they already purchased (BEFORE the approval of the Planning Commission). Drug Mart was also approved for taking an approximately 800 square foot wedge off the back of the residential property, instead of 13.5 feet of the side yard.
Though some have said that the residents of Grace and Cohassett lost, they would disagree. The residents came together not just to protest the encroachment of commercial interests into residential streets but to come up with a plan that would work for both interest groups.
Most in the neighborhood WANTED the Drug Mart. They weren't defending the vacant Ganley lot. They could really use a 21st century Drug Mart with a produce section that they can easily walk to. A thriving and successful business in that location is good news, especially if it isn't a cell phone store, a dollar store or a check cashing place, though Drug Mart probably cashes checks.
They wanted Drug Mart to be a good neighbor. Each side gave something on this deal and a lot of work and time went in on it.
Compared to the original and subsequent proposals, much was gained due to requests from the city, the Architectural Board of Review, the Planning Commission and the neighborhood.
The project went from approximately 114 parking spaces to 72; the surface drainage pond was scrapped; the 1899 white house was saved; Drug Mart now has an option to buy it and is supposed to rehab it. Much additional landscaping was added; better architectural details were added; the loading dock was reversed to keep delivery truck traffic off Grace/Cohasset. The Planning Commission mandated that the remaining white house lot must always remain residential, asked that the Drug Mart driveways on Grace and Cohassett direct drivers toward Detroit, and they are also interested in performing a traffic study.
Somewhat unsettling was late information that came from a conversation between residents and Mayor Summers after the meeting during which he volunteered the fact that Drug Mart wanted the apartment building so that they do not have to remove and abate the two underground storage tanks that make the Ganley site a brownfield. According to the mayor, if Drug Mart builds over and covers them up, the EPA will allow the tanks to stay underground. This is why there was no basement option and the building was kept on the surface.
Without a basement for storage, the new building would need to have a larger footprint- removing the apartment building then became necessary for parking.
Also, according to the mayor’s public comments, the city feels that there is a glut of older multi-unit apartment housing in Lakewood and that he was in favor of the apartment building being removed for that reason.
Overall the residents are pleased with the efforts they made, are proud of the people who researched and presented their issues so eloquently and felt gratified by the care with which this issue was reviewed and handled by the City, the Planning Commission and the Architectural Board of Review. However, some residents wished that these unmentioned issues had been made a part of the discussion and process, since they are driving reasons why the lot is laid out as it is.