Bates Road discussion slows development decision

ACME TWP. – It's been almost two years since a large-scale commercial development was proposed in Grand Traverse County's Acme Township, an area perhaps best know recently for controversy surrounding a proposed Meijer store and commercial development.

However, residents will have to wait a few more months to see whether this latest project (unrelated to the proposed Meijer) gets the green light.

In July 2007, Immanuel LLC of Traverse City filed an application with Acme Township to build Bates Crossing, a 271,750 square-foot commercial complex near the intersection of M-72 and Bates Road.

The project includes a main anchor store at 150,000 square feet, along with two smaller stores at about 50,000 square feet each. While it is widely rumored that Wal-Mart will be the anchor, consulting engineer Doug Mansfield says he does not want to disclose any potential tenants until the project is approved. Acme Township Zoning Administrator John Hull does not believe there is any validity to the Wal-Mart rumors.

Three smaller commercial buildings from 4,000 to 12,000 square feet are also in the plans to draw people in.

"The buildings are to provide some visibility for the development, since they [the developers] don't anticipate the main buildings to be visible, or at least to have very little visibility," says Hull. "The buildings are for businesses to draw people in or take advantage of passing traffic."

However, talk of potential customers may be premature. Last month at the request of the developers, discussion of Bates Crossing was tabled for 60 days. Mansfield says the reason for putting talks on hold is to instead focus on the possibility of realigning Bates Road to include a signaled intersection for the entrance of the development. Hull says the proposed realignment has the support of the township.

"Everybody involved feels that it will be better for the community to improve the intersection, which, because of the railroad track, cannot be improved in any other feasible way."

A special-use permit must also be approved before the development can go forward. After receiving feedback from the community, the planning commission is looking over the proposal and will make a recommendation to the township board.

With the Bates Crossing discussion being tabled for two months, the earliest the planning commission can revisit the proposal is at its July 27 meeting. Once the planning commission does make a recommendation to the board, Hull expects it to take at least two meetings before a final decision is made, meaning we might not know until this fall whether a new shopping center will be built. BN