Three new projects on the horizon for Buchanan

Published 2:46 pm Wednesday, October 21, 2020

BUCHANAN – Three Buchanan projects are closer to reality after action Tuesday night by the Buchanan Planning Commission. Meanwhile, planning commissioners are taking a pass at considering another marijuana microbusiness until they get guidance from city officials and are again starting up work on revamping the city’s master plan.

Planning commissioners took additional action on the multi-million-dollar E. Third Street project given preliminary approval last month. Local contractors Bill and Mack Green are constructing a “spec” building on East Third and received approval for amending the planned unit development terms they originally received five years ago.

The Greens bought former Clark Equipment acreage on E. Third Street back then to build a fitness center and high-rise condos. They have so far constructed the fitness center. The amendment approved last month allows them to construct the 20,000 square foot “spec” building, a holistic health center and a smaller condo project.

Tuesday’s planning commission action was to approve elevation plans for the new building but not the final site plan. Commissioner Ralph McDonald said he wasn’t comfortable approving the final site plan without more details on who will be leasing it and on other items.

Buchanan city officials have talked about in relocating the Department of Public Works to that site. The current building at the end of Clark Street has fallen into disrepair. A joint planning commission-city commission meeting on where to locate the DPW building is set for 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26 prior to the regular city commission meeting.

“There are so many open-ended items, I’m not comfortable approving the final site plan,” McDonald said. “I’m glad to approve the elevations but I’m not comfortable with doing the final site plan… We’d love for you to come back when you have a tenant secured. The last thing we want to do is to hold you up.”

Mack Green said they can still work on the building over the winter without the final site plan approval. He said the building will be constructed for a light industrial use. “We appreciate you allowing the project to move forward and we appreciate the feedback,” he said. “We will come back when we have a tenant and get this thing buttoned up.”

Two other projects also got the go-ahead.

Dave and Tracy Dippo will be able to put black steel awnings on the front and back of their Redbud Hardware store at Front and Red Bud Trail. Their plans for the awnings plus painting the window trim were previously approved by the city’s design review committee. That committee reviews exterior façade designs for downtown buildings.

“We were very excited to see someone do some interesting features and add a third dimension on Front Street and in the rear,” design review committee and planning commission member Kevin Barker said. “It also provides for protective openings for customers going into the building.”

Commissioners also approved façade changes for the Pinnacle Emporium marijuana business at 221 E. Front St., home previously to the H&R Block business.  Zoning administrator Debra Patzer said the owners are revamping the building inside and out. Their plan is to whitewash the building and give the appearance of a small general store.

Planning commissioners passed on a request to give their views on a proposal to add another marijuana microbusiness in the city. The city commission has only approved one adult use marijuana microbusiness license in the city for a location at 303 Carrol St.

Representatives of a company called Tranquility Fields have approached the city about having a marijuana microbusiness in Buchanan but have not received any formal response. Patzer said the city would have to amend its adult use marijuana ordinance to allow for another microbusiness.

Planning commissioners split on whether to even discuss the issue. Barker, chairman Jason Lietz and member Donna Monell said they want to hear from the city commission first since they cannot act on anything unless the city commission amends the ordinance. McDonald said he would have liked to give the company the opportunity to present their plans.

Work on the city’s master plan update is moving forward. Tuesday, commissioners heard from Patzer and Marcy Hamilton of the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission about what’s been done so far.

Planning commissioners set a special meeting for Nov. 17 to go over their suggestions for the new plan. The city is paying Hamilton and her organization $20,000 to help the city develop the master plan and then a new zoning ordinance.