The Royal Oak Planning Commission failed to reach a decision early Wednesday morning on the proposed Kroger site plan.
The $18 million project would sit on the site of the former Fresard auto dealership on North Main and University near 11 Mile.
The meeting featured two public comment periods that saw handfuls of proponents and adversaries of the plan voice their opinions. Emotions boiled over however, when Paul Condino of the Associated Food and Petroleum Dealers accused Mayor Jim Ellison of receiving kickbacks from the project.
“How dare you walk into this community, you lobbyist, and accuse me of taking money on this thing,” said Ellison, who jumped and advanced toward the crowd before being brought under control by fellow Planning Commission members.
Ellison later apologized and called his outburst “out of character,” but said that he draws a line when accused of such acts.
The commissioners struck down Kroger’s applications for special land use on account of several failures to meet city and state requirements, including noise and pollution concerns, their delivery truck plan and traffic.
The owners of Holiday Market and Hollywood Market were both in attendance and they, along with several patrons, voiced their concerns over the impact of Kroger on their businesses. Chairman Tom Hallock empathized with their grievances, but also said that the commission cannot reject a bid necessarily due to those concerns.
“It’s not our job to act as the competition police,” said Chairman Tom Hallock.
It’s likely that Kroger will go back to the drawing board with their architect to accommodate the many suggestions the commission offered them. Citing other Kroger locations around the Metro Detroit area suggestions included adding space for other retailers to inhabit parts of the building, moving the building from the south end of the property to the north, situating the building so it fronts Main St. the entire length of the site from Pingree Blvd. to East University St. and adding much more greenbelt around the entire perimeter.
Hallock made it a point to try and talk to all those residents on Pingree Blvd. whom would be impacted by the store. After speaking with nine out of 10 households, he found that the majority favored the building being placed on the north side of the property.
The soonest we could see Kroger back on the Planning Commission agenda will be on July 12.
– MF & JB