Bath Twp. Speaks Out on Meijer Store

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"It's going to happen anyway. But is that the right place at the right time?" Tim Alverson of Bath Township asks.

He's talking about growth, specifically growth along Saginaw Highway west of Marsh Road, roughly between Eunice and Chadwell roads.

What stands there now: Apartments, a body shop, a motel, even a shuttered restaurant -- everything but the Admiral gas station -- could be replaced by a Meijer store.

The 200,000 square-foot store fits in with the township's zoning for the area, but the plan needs a special use permit "because of the intensity of the use proposed by Meijer as well as the convenience store, gas station and garden facility," Township Planning Director James Foulds explained.

The township's planning commission has to decide whether to recommend that permit, so Meijer came before the commission and the public to sell the plan. Much of the opposition comes from those living behind the store.

"I have nothing against Meijer, but I just don't want it in my backyard," Joy Lott said. " We're worried about security. We're worried about traffic which is really bad right now."

Meijer studies show the store will add roughly 6,000 additional vehicle round trips to the area every weekday. The company is proposing some improvements, like a traffic signal, better timing and turn lanes.

A major issue for the board will be deciding whether to allow access to the store via Coleman Road, which runs parallel to Saginaw Highway north of the site.

There will be additional traffic, but the Meijer store would add jobs: More than 400, the Grand Rapids retailer says. Some in the business community, like Maria van Atta, are concerned.

"We also provide jobs for many people," Van Atta said.

But new jobs are new jobs for some who support the development. Michelle Bellmore grew up in Bath Township.

"I left. And I am the next generation. I didn't come back to watch it die. I came back to watch it grow," Bellmore said.

Whether it grows this way or not is up to the township board. They'll get a recommendation from the plan commission in the next couple of the months.