Plan panel approves coffee shop flood repair plan

Rendering provided by city of Houghton An drawing shows the site plan at the 5th and Elm, which suffered damage during the June 17, 2018, flash flood. The operator is looking to expand its indoor dining area, rebuild the patio and add residential space to the former Western Upper Peninsula Planning & Development Region offices on the lower level.

HOUGHTON — Post-flood work at the 5th and Elm coffee shop was one of several projects to pass the site plan review at Tuesday’s Houghton Planning Commission meeting.

5th and Elm plans an addition to the front of the building to increase indoor seating space. The courtyard area in front of the building will be reconfigured. Water coming down Dodge Street during the June 17 flood had gouged a hole in the courtyard.

“We’ll fill that hole and make appropriate use of that space,” said owner Frank Fiala.

The basement space formerly occupied by the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region will be changed to a residential unit and storage for 5th and Elm.

The building will add a stairwell to the roof area.

To mitigate damage from a potential flood in the future, the city will add curb cuts on Shelden Avenue, city manager Eric Waara said.

“There’s a storm sewer right in that courtyard just behind the sidewalk, and we’re going to be looking at doing some work on the sidewalk there next year to add another catch basin to pick things up,” he said.

The city will also put catch basins on Dodge Street during its reconstruction. The basins will be added near the Houghton County Courthouse and by Montezuma Street.

“All that water comes whistling down the hill, and it’s got so much velocity, it just goes right across Shelden Avenue instead of into the catch basin,” Waara said.

The Planning Commission also approved the site plan review for additional units at the Maki Apartments on Garnet Street. Eight units will be placed next to the existing building, for a total of 20. The number of parking spots and bike spaces will also be brought to 20.

For stormwater, it will use underground detention, with dispersals metered out to the storm sewer system.

Planning Commissioner member Bill Leder said it “is not the most handsome building I’ve ever seen,” but that site plan review doesn’t cover that.

Waara agreed the building is utilitarian, but said the city has yet to figure out a way to create an ordinance laying out “something we can all live with, taste-wise.”

As part of becoming a Redevelopment Ready Community, the city will be codifying the previously informal practice of having pre-planning and mid-planning meeting for people looking to create a development.

Three duplexes will be added at Quincy Cove, located on the downhill side of a circle belt near The Bluffs. They will be slightly larger than the existing duplexes nearby, Waara said.

Some new impervious area will be created, but it will use the existing stormwater ditch.

Waara said it will try to maintain as many of the original trees as possible to avoid having to plant new ones. The plan will be to rent them.

The former single-family residence and dentist’s office at 1220 Military Road will be converted into two apartments totaling eight beds. The use is permitted under its B-3 zoning. The existing garage and parking lot can handle 12 vehicles, exceeding the minimum of eight required by ordinance. An eight-bike rack will also be added.

Owner Dane Andress will also need apply for a rental license.

Planning Commission Chairman Tom Merz concluded the meeting by praising the work of the Department of Public Works in clearing snow after the weekend blizzard.

“It’s just amazing,” he said. “They’re doing the best they can do, which is pretty darn good.”

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