Traverse City Record-Eagle

Meijer-Acme Township Dispute

October 2, 2009

New process for Acme in Meijer store review

TRAVERSE CITY -- New players and a new process will usher in a new-look site plan review for Meijer Inc.'s long-delayed store in Acme Township.

The township planning commission this week voted to resume consideration of plans for a 232,000-square-foot Meijer store in the proposed Village at Grand Traverse on M-72 and Lautner Road.

It's the identical plan the Village at Grand Traverse LLC submitted five years ago, but this time will be presented by a project team that does not include Meijer representatives.

Jeffrey R. Anderson Real Estate Inc., a Cincinnati-based retail development firm that was previously a silent partner in the Village-Meijer project, now leads it.

"We were developing other things at the time and we were too busy to get involved in this project," said Steve Schooler, Anderson's director of construction. "We've done about 10 major developments like this and we'll use that experience to the benefit of the township and ourselves."

Acme Township will also change the way it reviews the project, said township Manager Sharon Vreeland.

The planning commission "will no longer indulge applicants' desire" to review large projects piece-by-piece while attempting to negotiate ordinance standards or review conditions, Vreeland said.

That's not the process the township follows for smaller developments, and history shows it hasn't worked for larger projects, either. Piecemeal review has been more costly and time-consuming for both the township and the developers, she said, citing the Village, Meijer's abandoned Lautner Commons development and an unrelated commercial mall known as Bates Crossing that's now stalled.

"It just turns into endless debate and when something changes you have to go back and change everything else," she said.

This time township staff will review the Village application as a complete package for compliance with applicable standards before it goes before the planning commission in November.

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