Taco Bell to receive architectural facelift, increase seating to 97, other Planning Committee decisions

Some things tend to weather tough economic times better than others.

One seems to be demand for tacos.

The Mount Pleasant Planning Commission granted a special use permit to the WT Development Corporation to redesign Taco Bell on Thursday.

The improvements include expanding the drive-through to hold 10 cars instead of eight, to avoid vehicles stacking up, and more than doubling the restaurant seating from 40 to 97 seats.

70 percent of business comes by the drive-through, said Bill Beckett, a representative of WT Development Corporation.

The current 1201 S. Mission St. location spans 1,600 square feet and will encompass 3,600 after construction.

“Overall I think you’ll find the site very attractive,” Beckett said.

Beckett said the building would have a nice presence of glass; all four walls will be brick, good window usage, bike storage, decorative fencing and a patio area.

He said the Taco Bell would remain open during its redesign.

He also said the area for the sign will be reduced from 30 to 21 feet.

Beckett raised another issue of concern:  Taco Bell’s current property contains a weeping cherry tree that is exceptionally rare in Michigan.

He said with the elimination of two parking spots, the rare plant could be transported to a different site during construction and studied by science classes.

Commissioner Shaun Holtgreive raised issues about whether or not the restaurant’s redesign will raise issues will parking within a year.

“I don’t have a concern about parking,” said Jeff Gray, director of planning and community development.

Planning chairman Peter Orlik said the improvements would benefit the community.

Concerns about additional housing

The Planning Commission also hosted a public hearing about the Wellman Group's request for a special use permit to convert its 400 and 402 S. University property from a space for offices to a residential duplex.

Several University Street residents spoke out against the permit because they fear the property will eventually be rented out to college students.

Sherm Rowley, the funeral director at Helms Funeral Home, 330 S. University Ave., also opposed the property's conversion.

Helms Funeral Home is across the street from the property.

Rowley said if customers visit to grieve a loved one’s death they will not want to see a dirty college house.

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