2014-12-04 / Front Page

Biggby site plan sparks concern for driver safety

810-452-2652 • lrocha@mihomepaper.com

SWARTZ CREEK — The Planning Commission wants to see a traffic safety study before ruling on a site plan for a proposed coffee shop/ restaurant at Miller and Elms roads.

Partners Daniel Atkinson and his son, Adam, want to open a Biggby Coffee on the northwest corner.

The Atkinsons would lease half of the 2,750-square-foot building to Mike Yost, owner of several Subway restaurants in the area. Yost hopes to move the Subway from Kroger plaza to the freestanding structure.

The plan includes seating for 24 people, 24 parking spaces and separate drive-through windows for the two businesses.

Access to the property would be from the service drive at Burger King, or a driveway on Miller Road, about 100 feet from the intersection.

The driveway has city planners a little concerned.

Engineers at both Rowe Professional Services and Progressive AE reviewed the site plan and noted that the proximity of the driveway to the city’s busiest intersection could compromise motorist safety, particularly with outbound, left-turn traffic.

“I think we’re going to have real trouble safety-wise with that driveway,” said Commission Secretary Robert Florine.

City Manager Adam Zettel urged the Planning Commission to require that the Atkinsons commission a traf- fic impact analysis.

“There is a science behind it,” said Zettel. “It’s not prudent to analyze from the table based on anecdotal evidence.”

The study would provide information on traffic counts and patterns, and peak travel times.

“We don’t want people hurt out there trying to get coffee,” said Zettel. Progressive AE engineers also pointed out a potential problem with congestion caused by the criss-crossing drive-through lanes.

Separate ordering stations would be situated side-by-side, with the Subway station on the left and the Subway pickup window just a few feet away. Subway customers would leave the window and veer to the right, crossing into the path of Biggby customers. At the same spot, Biggby customers would veer left to approach the pickup window.

The Planning Commission did not comment on the drive-through design. Additional discussion centered on whether 24 parking spaces will be sufficient, and whether the parking lot is large enough to accommodate delivery trucks, particularly during business hours.

The developers are expected to return in January with the traffic impact study. At that time, the commissioners could approve the site plan. The commission’s decision serves only as a recommendation to the City Council, which has the final authority on whether the project may proceed as proposed.

The Atkinson family also owns the Biggby Coffee that opened in July in Flint Township.

Daniel Atkinson also serves as chief of police in Mundy Township, and oversees the Swartz Creek Police Department in an agreement in which city police Chief Rick Clolinger works part time for both agencies as the two communities study a possible police consolidation.

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