TR Planning Comm. sends two permit applications to city commission

THREE RIVERS — Two special exception use (SEU) permit applications will soon be sent to the Three Rivers City Commission for potential approval.

The Three Rivers Planning Commission Monday approved motions recommending the granting of SEUs for Clark Logic at 1020 Millard St. and Menards Self-Storage at 1001 Warner Dr. Both requests will be sent to the city commission for possible approval at a future meeting.

Clark Logic’s request involves the building located on the corner of Millard Street and Maplecrest Court, which is soon to be the home of a satellite office for Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services of St. Joseph County (CMH). The office would fall under “professional businesses,” which are an acceptable special exception use for the building, which is currently zoned as residential.

Notably, in the SEU application form provided to the planning commission, it states that “100 percent of the building and site will be used for this single business.” At the planning commission’s last meeting Aug. 29, it was proposed the building could be used for multiple businesses, including a hair salon, and a potential apartment upstairs. The arrangement would have been valid under a zoning amendment approved by the City Commission in early September.

However, that plan went out the window when CMH approved a lease agreement for the building just a day after the planning commission meeting, on Aug. 30. Planning Liaison John Beebe explained the situation to commissioners during discussion Monday.

“There was an amendment included for professional offices in the recent ordinance passed by the city commission, but the neighborhood businesses were separate. We still keep professional businesses as professional businesses,” Beebe said. “When the applicant originally applied, they applied for both; they weren’t sure which lease agreement they would go with first. They ultimately went with the counseling one, which falls under the medically-associated professional business.”

Planning commissioners were amenable to the plan put forth to them.

“I don’t see any issues. It’ll be nice to see something in that building; it’s been vacant for a long time,” board member Jenny Koski said. “They’ve done a nice job with the remodel to it. I had shown it previously before Clark bought it, and it was pretty rough and needed a lot of work. They did a nice job cleaning it up aesthetically as well as structurally.”

“From the last meeting, my concern was with how many different activities there would be,” board member Ron Hudson said. “As it is now, I have no problem with it.”

As for the second SEU approved during the meeting, Menards’ request was to put a self-storage facility off of Warner Drive, where there is currently a grassy field between the store and M-60, and behind the Family Farm and Home store property. The 5.81-acre area where the facility is slated to go is currently owned by Menards.

According to an initial site plan for the property, there would be 361 storage units ranging in size from 10 feet by 15 feet, all the way to 12 feet by 40 feet. It would also include 26 parking units for 30-foot-long vehicles and 28 parking units for 40-foot-long vehicles.

Tyler Edwards from Menards said the company operates 4,000 storage units currently nationwide, and they are looking to double that number in the next couple of years. He gave a rundown of what the facility would look like and why the facility would be something needed in the area.

“We see a lot of people that shop at Menards use these facilities, whether they’re customers or they’re contractors,” Edwards said. “We find they use the facilities and it works hand-in-hand to have them so close. … There’s a need for storage in Three Rivers, and we’re hoping to fill that gap with this project.”

Planning commissioners were pleased by the initial plan, noting the need for storage facilities in the area and the parking for large vehicles.

“It looks like this will also have parking for RVs and trailers and such. Most don’t offer that,” board chair John Kish said. “It seems to be kind of what’s lacking in storage areas, places to park your RVs or your boats.”

“I think as soon as any storage units go up in this community, they’re gone. There is a need,” Koski said. “The fact [Menards is] utilizing land they already owned and developing that, I think it makes sense.”

Both SEU permit applications were approved unanimously by the board.

In other business…

  • A community engagement event and downtown business recognition event for the city originally scheduled for Oct. 28 at 52 N. Main St. has been pushed back to Nov. 8 due to scheduling conflicts.
  • The planning commission reviewed some Master Plan recommendations for potential ordinance amendments. No formal action was taken.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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