A unique piece of property in Genoa Township is posing some challenges for a proposed redevelopment project.

The property in question is a total of six parcels on 5.12-acres bounded by Grand River, Lawson Drive and Whitehorse Drive. The site currently contains the Sunoco gas station, which developers say would remain as part of the redevelopment, and two non-residential buildings that would be demolished. The project is being proposed by Premier Genoa LLC who, in addition to retaining the Sunoco gas station, wants to develop 45,000 square-feet of self-storage space, 7,000 square-feet of retail space, 3,700 square-feet of flex-office space, and over 2,330 square-feet of new, food-based retail.

A conceptual site plan for the project came before Genoa Township’s Planning Commission Monday night for review and developers admitted there are a few primary challenges they’re facing. One of the major issues is storm water management. In order for it to be accommodated on the property, the water would have to be funneled to a location to the north, which goes against the natural flow of water in the area. Assistant Township Manager Kelly VanMarter says the property’s zoning is another issue because Premier Genoa is proposing indoor/climate controlled self-storage space, which is a land use not currently provided in the township’s zoning ordinance. VanMarter says in order for that element to be incorporated, the township's zoning ordinance would either have to be amended or the project would have to be designated as a Planned Unit Development (PUD).

Commissioners had some input regarding the proposed building materials, voiced concerns about the need to renovate the Sunoco gas station to match with the rest of the development’s aesthetic, and suggested that developers decide what avenue they’d like to pursue in order to incorporate the proposed self-storage use into the project.The project team can use and incorporate the Planning Commission’s feedback into their site plans before formally submitting them to be considered at a future meeting. VanMarter says it’s best to use baby steps when working through the approval process as some of the project’s unique elements make it an “odd request”.

Project leaders say the potential development’s benefits include substantial improvement when it comes to the property’s visual appeal, a private utility which would increase development while reducing the strain on storm water management, and keeping future adaptive reuse in mind when creating the conceptual plans. (DK)