By Samantha VanHoef
The Meridian Times
After months of planning, replanning, discussion and appeals, the Meridian Township Board has voted to allow a Jimmy John’s on Grand River Avenue. The project, brought to the Planning Commision in November, will allow developer MF Okemos, LLC to take the next steps in working on construction of the store.
Initially, the Planning Commission denied the application to build on the site, which was formerly a Northwest Tire location. However, MF Okemos, LLC took its project plan, with suggestions made by the Planning Commision, to the Township Board. On March 17, the board unanimously voted to overturn the Planning Commission’s decision, allowing the project to continue.
“In making their appeal, the applicants presented a very different plan to the Township Board, one that involved proposing to build a smaller building among other things,” Meridian Township Planning Commission Chair John Scott-Craig said. “The applicants still have some issues to deal with since even their new plan does not meet all the conditions in the Meridian Township ordinances.”
To continue progress on the site, MF Okemos, LLC must get special permission to not follow the township ordinances. The developers will apply for permission from the township’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
“I really want to thank the applicant for playing along with us in this endeavor, because this was a special use permit to the township for a drive-though,” Trustee Angela Wilson said. “What it turned into, in my opinion, was a process, where we look at every aspect of the plan. I appreciate the changes that were made and I appreciate the applicant for making those changes. When they made those changes, they were thinking ‘what can we do to make this a better project for the township?’ based on the Board’s comments and the Planning Commission’s comments. They’ve made changes following those comments and we’ve got this better plan.”
Due to the changes made to the plan, five of the six old oak and hickory trees on the site were also saved. The new location will redevelop the former Northwest Tire space on 2049 Grand River Ave. and will include a Mattress Store and a Jimmy John’s complete with a drive-through.
“Personally I think that having another Jimmy John’s location in Okemos is an awesome idea for a lot of reasons,” said Kyle Medrano, Michigan State University senior and Jimmy John’s employee. “Even though it might attract more customers in that direction, I don’t think that it will affect the revenue of the Grand River Jimmy John’s where I work. The primary sales of the Grand River store on campus is made from students and local businesses who enjoy the short delivery time or close walking distance.”
The three Jimmy John’s on MSU’s campus have delivery areas that border each other. The Grand River store delivers to the north side of campus, but according to Medrano, the primary source of orders come from businesses among Grand River and the off-campus housing areas.
“Because none of these customers are relatively near the Okemos store, I am confident that sales will not drop significantly due to the opening of the new store,” Medrano said. “The Okemos store will be bringing the food to a region where the Grand River Jimmy John’s was never capable of delivering to, so the opening of the store will have no effect on the current delivery routes, either.”