Northland News

Morse Road lot

Rezoning sought for Family Dollar store


The only case on the agenda at last week's Northland Community Council development committee meeting turned out to be a case of not enough communication with neighboring property owners.

So, after some hesitation, real estate consultant Dave Perry asked the panel to hold off until next month on a proposal that would have brought an approximately 8,400-square-foot Family Dollar store and another similar building with as-yet-undefined uses to what is currently a vacant lot at 3224 Morse Road.

The 2.2-acre site is on the north side of the street, just west of Chateau Morse Drive.

The property is currently owned by 3224 Morse Road LLC, but Core Resources Inc., which Perry described as a "design-build firm" for Family Dollar, is in contract to purchase it.

The land was last rezoned for limited commercial uses in 1998. Perry, the principle of Dave Perry Co. Inc., said his client wants commercial planned development zoning to permit construction of the specific retail store and a building that would be of the same size but for which an occupant has not been identified.

City officials require that the driveway into the site be directly across from one on the south side of Morse Road, according to Perry.

But that would place it immediately adjacent to an existing driveway in Blendon Township for the Hartman Corp., a trophies, awards, plaques and sports memorabilia operation at 3216 Morse Road that dates to 1968, protested Gary Hartman, vice president of the company.

Hartman said a car ran him over inside the store's showroom March 12, so he's especially sensitive to the potential for dangerous traffic situations, which he said the Family Dollar property's driveway would create.

"I do not like the driveway there at all," Hartman said. "It's going to be a very difficult situation for my customers and my employees."

He and employee Luella Bean also protested to development committee members that they had only learned of the proposed land use change the afternoon of the panel's meeting.

Notices were mailed April 15 to all surrounding property owners, according to Perry, but Bean said no one at Hartman Corp. got one.

"We feel this whole thing is a little sneaky," she said. "We feel like we're just thrown underneath the rug now."

In addition, Mary Fairall, a resident of the Chateau Morse condominiums just east of the site, said the proposed change would further damage property values already diminished by nearby development.

Development committee members expressed reservations about giving the commercial planned development their blessing without knowing what the second structure on the site would be used for. Perry agreed on behalf of his client to exclude a bar, nightclub or cabaret, but declined panel member William Logan's request to also drop possible automotive uses.

In light of what Logan termed a "laundry list" of issues committee members believe should be addressed, as well as the concerns of Hartman, Bean and Fairall, he suggested that Perry return for another review at a future meeting.

Perry asked for some time to consider the question, and also pointed out that the proposed uses are in keeping with the update that's being made to the Northland Area I Plan.

Finally, in what he said were the interests of fairness, Perry consented to have the matter delayed until the next session May 29.