by CYNTHIA KMETT
After a year of meetings and discussions with the city’s Planning Commission, last Monday IHOP and Panda Express won Troy City Council’s approval to build the two eateries on Rochester Road, just north of Big Beaver. It was a conditional rezoning project, which required council approval. There was also a special use provision for the Panda Express drive-thru. Only one part of the project, a lot at 1033 Urbancrest, needed to be rezoned into the General Business zoning category. That parcel will be part of the parking lot.
Because the old strip center, which has been vacant for decades, was already zoned in the Rochester Road district, developer John Baker of Brand Growth, Inc. and holder of the IHOP franchises for about two-thirds of Michigan is free to start the IHOP building project as soon as he feels like it. Plans call for the removal of the back of the building to add more parking, and a 4,000-sqaure-foot retail outlet behind the IHOP restaurant, which will face Rochester Road. Baker can also immediately apply to remove the vacant Mr. Pita eatery to replace it with the Panda Express.
Asked if he had a tenant for the retail space, Baker said that he wanted to be approved for the IHOP before looking for a tenant. He said he expected it would be a service-oriented space, like an insurance company or perhaps a medical professional.
Baker noted to council that the strip mall had “strong bones,” unlike buildings in warmer climates, this one was built with stone and steel meant to stand up to a Michigan winter.
Councilmembers said they had received many inquiries from residents about when was Troy going to get an IHOP eatery. They liked the design of the two restaurants and said they would be an enhancement to the Rochester and Big Beaver corridor.
City Planning Director Brent Savidant told council to credit the city Planning Commission for the good looks of both buildings. The Panda Express design was upgraded at the planners’ suggestion to be more in keeping with the looks of IHOP. Savidant noted that the planners are quite concerned with new buildings in Troy living up to good design standards and materials.
Council unanimously approved the new eateries.
Council had to update its “Minor in Possession” ordinance to mirror the new state law. It still says no on under 21 years of age can purchase or attempt to purchase, consume or attempt to consume alcoholic liquor or possess it, or have it in their body. It was a misdemeanor in the past. It is now a civil infraction, with a $100 fine, and $200 after that. However, the charge will revert to a misdemeanor after the second incident, and that makes it a $500 fine and perhaps some time in a program or two.
The big change for the kids, however, is they no longer have to take a breath test unless they want to take it. If a police officer is refused, their recourse is to get warrant to compel the teen to take a PBT. Underage drinkers should be forewarned that it’s not hard in Troy to find the proper person to sign that warrant.
In addition, police can still confiscate the alcoholic beverages at the scene. If an officer sees a teen drinking, they can ask for identification and issue a ticket and take the beverage.
In other business, the city employees’ Casual With a Cause program donated S794.00 to On My Own of Michigan Executive Director Jennifer Roccanti. On My Own is a local non-profit which helps those with disabilities find work and learn independent living skills they can use in life in Troy.