ALPENA - The owners and staff of Freedom Motors in Alpena have 30 days to provide the City of Alpena design plans for a new location on Washington Avenue that will be used as its new location. The company also will have to comply with new parking demands, which will limit the amount of cars it can park on the edge of the sidewalk and the intersection at Washington and Ripley Boulevard.
During Tuesday's meeting City Building Official Don Gilmet told the board that traffic and parking issues have become an issue at the dealership, which is currently located in the old Medicine Shoppe building on Ripley. He said he has been documenting the points where compliance has been lacking and as a result recommended the plan for the new facility be submitted to the city in 30 days and four parking spots bordering Ripley be prohibited from being used.
After discussion the commissioners voted to remove one parking spot at the corner of Washington and Ripley, and to place the 30-day order for the plans for the new location. If the dealership does not comply, it could lose its special use permit and lose the right to sell vehicles at the location. Gilmet said he hopes the plans are submitted on time and the move to the new location happens soon.
"I hope they do comply. It seems (City Manager Greg Sundin) is pretty confident," Gilmet said. "I've been dealing with them for quite a while and I was hoping the removal of the parking spots on the busy street would hasten the desire for them to move to the new location as soon as possible."
Gilmet said the cars that are parked on the Ripley Boulevard side of the dealership butt up against the sidewalk and the mirrors actually hang over them. He said he has heard several concerns from people who believe it is dangerous to walk, ride bikes or push a stroller down that particular portion of the sidewalk on Washington.
He said others have expressed concerns about the obstruction the vehicles cause when trying to navigate through the busy intersection. Cindy Johnson said the way the dealership is set up now is dangerous and the commission has an obligation to keep the people in Alpena safe, even if it means doing something it has an impact on the business.
"We have an obligation to do something about this and to protect the safety, health and welfare of the people in Alpena," Johnson said. "The visibility at the intersection, the parking, the sloping sidewalks, the whole thing is a concern to me. We have had calls and complaints and if there was no issue people wouldn't be complaining. We're hopeful they will do what they promise, so we'll see."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.