Saline Planning Commission Approves Site Plan for Crematory on Tefft Court

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The Saline Planning Commission voted unanimously to grant conditional approval site plan approval for a 6,200 square-foot crematory and warehouse on Tefft Court in the Redies Industrial Park.

Tim Kruger of Krueger and Sons Inc., plans to build the Arbor Professional Services Building for Nie Funeral Homes on land purchased from the City of Saline.

The project includes the 6,400 square-foot building,  a half an acre of parking and 1.5 acres of landscaped area with stormwater management.

Notably, OHM Advisors, the city's engineering consultant, had 22 issues with the site plan. Approval of the site plan was granted on condition that OHM agrees that necessary changes have been made.

Mayor Brian Marl, who serves on the planning commission, supported the site plan approval.

"I would have preferred some of the deficiencies identified in the OHM report were resolved before tonight's meeting, but overall I think this is a good plan and I think the enterprise is complementary and a good use of a parcel that has been in our municipal portfolio for many years," Marl said. "One of the goals is to get these parcels moved from public ownership to private ownership, get them added to the tax rolls, see jobs created and offer new amenities and services to our constituents."

Councillor Dean Girbach, city council's liaison to the planning commission, said he wanted to see fewer conditions in the future.

"Especially with Lot 13 that's going to be developed - that we not have this many conditions when it comes forward to us," Girbach said. "It's not good practice and it should be resolved before coming to us."

The new facility is not expected to host memorial services.

"It's my understanding that this facility is not being developed to have funerals," said planning consultant Doug Lewan said. "It's not for memorial services."

However, there may be small gatherings comparable to grave-side services.

Lewan said there were a limited number of seats for family and friends.

One concern was that the county maps listed the land as a wetland.

Assistant City Manager Mike Greene said Midwestern Consulting conducted test pit studies and determined the land was not wetlands.

Early Ophoff, an associate with Midwestern Consulting, said the wetland test pits were dug to a depth of six feet. He said they showed no standing water or wetland vegetation.

Greene said the developer has addressed most of the 22  recommendations of OHM Advisors, the city's engineering consultant.

Councillor Girbach, city council's liaison to planning commission, said he had a concern about the number of OHM recommendations.

"What kind of confirmation do we get back from OHM that says, 'we've checked all the issues?'" Girbach asked.

Greene said OHM will review the developers' plans and submit a letter to the city stating OHM's satisfaction with the site plan.

"But actually, this planning commission is approving a document that isn't really certified," Girbach said.

Greene said the approval is conditional.

"If OHM never signs off on it then the site plan is never fully approved," Greene said.

Answering a question from planning commission chair Scott Fosdick, owner Dutch Nie said he expected two employees would work out of the facility.

No comments were made during a public hearing on the site plans.

Sign Ordinance

Assistant City Manager Greene told planning commission the city's sign ordinance is outdated. The city's code review board is removing content-based language in the city's ordinance. Another change in the ordinance, driven by election sign issues, centers around time frames for signs in residential areas.

Greene said City Attorney Tom Forshee will discuss the matter at the next planning commission.

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