Niles Township grants Lowe’s its variances

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- The Niles Township Zoning Board of Appeals Tuesday gave Lowe's Ind. what it needs to move forward with a proposed home improvement center at 2055 S. 11th St., next to Walmart, in Niles.
Daniel Smothermon, chairman of the township's zoning board of appeals, said Lowe's was granted all six zoning variances for which it applied.
Lowe's has requested that a traffic light be installed on South 11th Street at the proposed entrance to the complex.
That request is currently under evaluation by the Michigan Department of Transportation.
However, an MDOT spokesman said Thursday afternoon, such requests are typically denied, at least initially.
Paul South, manager for MDOT's transportation center in Coloma, said it's rare that companies receive a positive response on their initial request to have a new traffic light installed.
South said MDOT typically monitors the traffic density for a year after a request for a traffic light has been made before making a decision on whether a traffic light is needed to regulate traffic.
MDOT usually covers the cost of putting in new traffic lights and wants to have ownership of the traffic lights themselves, he said.
South is currently awaiting a response from the region's traffic engineer so that he can let Lowe's know what the outcome of the review will be.
Although South doesn't know the outcome of the review yet, he said there appears to be some issues with the data and modelling of Lowe's request for traffic lights, as well as with how Lowe's consultant set up the future traffic lanes at the suggested location.
Niles Township's Smothermon said he thinks a traffic signal would help improve safety for people who travel on the busy stretch of road.
Dennis Carlson, store manager at Wal-Mart's store in Niles agrees.
Carlson said a traffic light would help regulate traffic and help keep Wal-Mart's consumers safe.
Walmart spokesperson Sharon Webber said Walmart applied for a traffic light for Niles' Walmart store when that was built 10 years ago.
But Webber said Wal-Mart has continued to monitor the traffic there.
A Lowe's representative was unavailable for comment Friday morning.

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