The County Press

Popeyes chicken, also maybe a bank proposed for M-24 frontage in Lapeer

LAPEER — Thursday evening, the Lapeer Planning Commission approved a rezoning request for a 4.5- acre parcel on S. Lapeer Road (M-24) sought by a developer in order to build a drive-thru Popeyes chicken restaurant, and possibly a bank on the location.

Planning officials granted a request by Philip Ruggeri on behalf of Troy-based Michigan Multi-King, Inc. to rezone the property immediately north of Belle Tire from R-3 Single-Family to B-2 General Business. The L-shaped property owned by Mark and Cindy LaBaza borders Baldwin Road to the west, the Taco Bell restaurant property to the north, and behind (west) of the Arborview Veterinary Clinic and Realty Executives businesses and properties.

The rezoning approval will allow Ruggeri to proceed with plans to build a 2,600 to 2,800-square-foot Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen restaurant to have access driveways from both S. Lapeer Road and Baldwin. Plans are for two drive-thru order lanes that narrow to one line at the pick-up window. Ruggeri will need to apply for a special land use permit to operate drive-thru windows, while the developer that has built 15 Burger King restaurants and five Popeyes in southeast Michigan, will also have to submit a site plan to the Planning Commission that will detail building size, location and driveways on the property. Ruggeri said “he’s about 80% there” to securing a deal to also build an unnamed bank on the property. Popeyes and the other tenant will front S. Lapeer Road. A future phase will be to develop the Baldwin Road frontage.

Ruggeri would like to see construction on the new Popeyes start in spring or summer of 2022.

The rezoning approval recommendation by the Planning Commission will likely be introduced at a Sept. 20 meeting of the Lapeer City Commission, with adoption at its Oct. 4 meeting.

Lapeer Township officials submitted a letter to the Planning Commission and requested Lapeer officials deny the rezoning request because they contend it violates the intent of a 2006 annexation agreement that allowed the previous township property to be brought into (annexed) into the City of Lapeer, provided it stayed residential because the property bordered primarily residential neighbors.

Baldwin Road residents Jim and Mary Gross, who live (west) across the street from the proposed development, were in attendance to voice their opposition to the rezoning request. Jim Gross said there’s already a lot of traffic on Baldwin Road due to Culver’s and the new Lapeer Villas apartment community, and said they’ve had difficulty getting out of their driveway. Ruggeri said the access driveway from Popeyes will be located further south of their home, and would not result in vehicle headlights shining directly into their home. “We will work with that concern in the design phase. We don’t want it (access driveway) to go directly in front of their home,” he commented.

Representatives from Realty Executives and Arborview Veterinary Clinic were on hand, and indicated their approval of the rezoning request — though asked to be considered for an easement on the north end of the development site to allow them to receive City of Lapeer sewer utility line service to their properties, which they said was promised at the time of the annexation of their properties into the City.

Ruggeri said he didn’t think that would be an issue if there’s cost sharing by the parties involved, however, noted if it’s found to be too costly or detrimental to the site development it will not occur.

In other business:

• The Planning Commission issued site plan extensions to The Villages of Lapeer Nursing & Rehabilitation at 239 S. Main and the Michigan National Guard Army at 2148 W. Genesee until Sept. 10, 2022 to break ground on additions to their respective facilities.

The Villages of Lapeer in September 2020 were granted approval to build an approximate 8,550-square-foot addition to provide space for 18 more short-term stay rooms that would allow management to reconfigure layout of the 87-bed facility to reduce resident/patient density.

Also in 2020, the Lapeer Planning Commission approved two building additions at the National Guard Armory — to be completed in phases. One phase is a 4,570-squarefoot addition planned for the rear of the building (north side), while the other is a 4,752-square-foot addition at the southwest corner of the current Armory.

In addition, to accommodate the larger space a new 102-vehicle parking lot is planned on what is currently lawn fronting West Genesee Street. Currently parking is located at the rear of the building.

Unless construction has begun in one year’s time of when a site plan is approved in Lapeer, the applicant must reapply and resubmit their development plans to the Planning Commission. There were no changes to their original plans, so their site plan extensions were granted without issue.