Updated: Thursday, April 19, 10:44 a.m.
Would West Bloomfield support Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit if it moved into the soon-to-be-vacant appliance store in the "gateway to the community"?
The nonprofit, which re-entered the thrift store market in Canton about one year and a half ago, dealt with four months of public debate in Dearborn in order to gain a permit necessary to open a store in a vacant building in the west downtown area there. A special land use permit was finally granted by the City Plan Commission last week, with a 5-4 vote, amid past concerns from the commission of "the demographics of the people who will be shopping there," among others.
A request for exceptions from a local law were tabled by the Zoning Board of Appeals Tuesday as board members asked for more time to research and a petition by neighboring businesses at the northeast Northwestern and Orchard Lake intersection which oppose the project was presented.
Mike Robin, longtime owner of the Robin's Nest shopping center in West Bloomfield just north of the site, said that all 13 of his tenants signed the petition due to concerns of unfair competition and congestion.
The clothing boutique in the center would "probably be shut down within a few months," due to the contrast in size with Goodwill, according to Robin, despite the past presence of Dunham's Sports at the adjacent site.
Robin added, "What stops these trucks from unloading, one after another? It could be 5-6 trucks waiting in line to unload material that they want to donate to the Goodwill store. It's just a bad image, especially, up in front of the store.
"The trucks at Dunham's were delivering in the back ... they never had any deliveries in the front."
The Dearborn proposal was approved Wednesday night by the city's Zoning Board with a 3-1 vote. The planned 15,000-square-foot store is expected to open in late summer to early fall.
According to Goodwill Director of Donated Goods Jeffrey Ukrainec, it was a relatively smooth process.
"It was not a circus like it has been," he said. "It was more of an education process."
The West Bloomfield Zoning Board had been asked to grant an exception from the law which would have required Goodwill, categorized by the township as a secondhand store (similarly in Dearborn), to be located more than 750 feet from another "restricted" use — in this case, a tattoo studio.
Chair David Robertson said that he was in support of the request in principle, but suggested that the request be formally made by Goodwill, as opposed to the developer.
"I would not want the benefactor to be for-profit," Robertson said.
The matter was tabled to the next Zoning Board meeting, scheduled for May 15. If the request is approved, Goodwill will need to come before the Township Planning Commission prior to opening.
Patch local editor Jessica Carreras contributed to this article.