The purpose of this study is to identify improvements and possible land use recommendations for the Grand River Avenue corridor study area. Corridor planning is a tool that permits the City to closely examine an area that is in need of a more intense planning focus.
Grand River Avenue has historically been a major transportation corridor linking the City of Novi with the City of Detroit to the east and Lansing to the west. The corridor bisects the City at an angle from Haggerty Road to the east and Wixom Road to the west, running parallel to the I-96 Freeway to the north. The focus of this corridor study is from Beck Road east to the Taft Road intersection.
Grand River Avenue is a major entryway into the heart of the City. Drivers travel east along this route to reach Novi Road and the Novi Expo Center as well as the Town Center shopping areas and Main Street. The corridor also functions as an accessible alternative to the I-96 Freeway during periods of congestion.
The segment between Beck and Taft Roads includes a wide range of land uses including general business, single- and multi-family residential, industrial and office.
The Grand River Corridor Study commissioned by the City in 1997-98 recommended widening the corridor to 5 lanes to provide for the increased capacity and traffic flow necessary to handle increases in traffic expected with anticipated future development.
The planned relocation of the Novi Expo Center to property within this segment of Grand River Avenue will have a significant impact on the future development of the corridor.
In the City’s continued effort to implement its Master Plan for Land Use, the Grand River Avenue Geographic Area Plan documents the corridor’s existing conditions with regard to the existing land use, infrastructure, and natural features. This area plan will examine the anticipated impacts of planned road improvements in the corridor and the relocation of the Expo Center, and provide recommendations for the future arrangement of land uses. In addition, the study will include a corridor enhancement program component, which provides recommendations for improved lighting and enhanced landscaping.
Land Use & Zoning
The following provides a brief overview of existing land use and zoning of properties in the Grand River Avenue study area. General topics and recommendations from the recently amended Master Plan have also been included to provide a background to the direction that the City would like to see development occur in the study area. Historical and archeological features have also been identified.
Existing Land Use
The current land use make-up of the study area consists of the following:
Forty-two percent of the land area in this segment of the Grand River Avenue corridor is currently vacant;
Nearly 28 % of the land area in the study area is being used for light and general industrial uses;
Heavy industrial uses on large parcels such as Wixom Ready Mix, the Evangelista Corporation and DeMaria Building Company have defined the character of Grand River Avenue for decades;
Michigan Laser, Planet Neon and Johnson Services are some of the light industrial uses within the study area;
There are some large scale commercial uses at the Grand River Avenue and Beck Road intersection within the West Market Square Development;
Existing single family residential uses within the study area are located primarily along the south side of Grand River, the Andes Hills Condominium just west of Taft Road is the only multiple family residential in the study area ;
Providence Hospital, a quasi public use, occupies the southwest corner of the intersection of Grand River Avenue and Beck Road;
General business and office sites are scattered throughout the study area and include JCK & Associates, Engelson Frame and Molding and the Rosewood Restaurant.
The major zoning classifications for properties along Grand River Avenue are as follows:
Most of the properties along the north side of Grand River Avenue within the study area are zoned OST, Office Service Technology.
On the south side of Grand River Avenue, the bulk of the properties within the study area are zoned I-1, Light Industrial.
Residential zoning districts in the corridor include single family R-A, R-2, R-4 and RM-1 districts;
Both B-2, Community Business and B-3, General Business districts are present at the intersection of Grand River Avenue and Beck Road;
Limited amounts of OS-1, Office Service and OSC, Office Service Commercial zoned properties are located near Beck Road south of Grand River Avenue within the study area.
Master Plan Recommendations
The study area was identified in the City-wide effort to encourage the development of high-tech, R&D office uses with the OST Study; which resulted in the City-initiated rezoning of most of the property north of Grand River Avenue to OST, Office Service Technology in 1998.
A recent amendment to the City’s Master Plan for Land Use included a recommendation for a change in land use at the southeast corner of Beck Road and Grand River Avenue from general business to office. Grand River Avenue was also designated as a Special Treatment Corridor within the amended Master Plan. Specifically, the corridor was viewed as an Entrance Corridor to the City. The Master Plan states that improvement of the visual quality of Entrance Corridors is key and would include:
Providing varied landscape materials in planned patterns;
Utilize standards for street and site lighting;
Eliminate overhead utilities;
Provide special treatments at intersections such as landscaping and special paving;
Highlight and direct travelers to key destinations; consider way-finding signs for public places.
Historical & Archeological Features
Two Native American Trail routes cross through the study area. Both of these trails are documented by the Michigan Natural Features Inventory. The State of Michigan also lists Archeological sites within Sections 15 and 17 of the City of Novi. In order to protect these sites, however, their exact location has not been disclosed by the State.
The following overview of natural features located within the Grand River Avenue study area includes a brief description of the existing condition of wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife habitat. In addition, potential impacts of planned road improvements on these natural features are described. Finally, a summary of existing environmental conditions is also discussed which highlights potentially contaminated sites in the study area.
A number of wetlands and one watercourse will be impacted by the proposed expansion of Grand River Avenue, between Taft and Beck Roads. Because many of the wetlands that appear on the Wetlands Map have changed in size and others do not appear, wetland delineation will be necessary to accurately quantify the potential impacts.
The impacted watercourse crosses Grand River Avenue at approximately the middle point of the corridor study area. This area appears to be highly vulnerable to decreased water quality and habitat degradation.
Further degradation to a much larger portion of the watercourse is expected to occur as a result of the proposed road improvements, which may limit wildlife utilization and reduce the quality of this area. A high incidence of invasive species in some of the potentially impacted wetlands is another issue that needs to be addressed. In addition to direct impacts, wetland buffer areas will be eliminated around many of the wetlands which will ultimately lead to greater pollution and degradation of such wetlands.
Within the study area, higher quality woodlands are located on the south side of Grand River Avenue. Large areas of medium woodlands characterize this area and provide some connections to the north.
There are several significant single trees within the study area; however, because they are not desirable species and are in poor condition, they should be replaced with trees that will become landmarks over time. Preservation of the existing woodlands within the corridor, especially those of higher quality south of Grand River, is important as woodlands provide many benefits to the City. Woodlands are valuable for plant and wildlife habitat, groundwater recharge and watershed protection, visual and audio screening, and air and noise pollution filtration. Furthermore, woodlands offer a variety of seasonal aesthetic beauties.
In addition to protection, enhancement of existing woodlands within the corridor is important in order to provide better connections between wooded areas. Besides destruction, fragmentation and degradation are the greatest threats to natural areas; therefore, high quality woodland areas need to be buffered from adjacent activity, and large areas of contiguous woodlands need to be maintained with little or no fragmentation.
Wildlife habitat areas in the corridor study area are found only on the south side of Grand River Avenue. A large area of Type C habitat extends south of the study area, and a small area of Type B habitat extends west, connecting this area to Beck Road. Efforts should be taken to preserve and enhance all wildlife habitat areas within the study area.
Existing Environmental Conditions
A search of available federal and state environmental records was conducted by Environmental Data Resources, Inc. As indicated on the Existing Environmental Conditions Map, this search resulted in 25 total sites located within the Grand River Avenue study area.
The following provides a brief overview of the existing infrastructure within the Grand River Avenue study area. Water and sewer utilities, public right-of-way, daily traffic volumes, and surface water drainage are all discussed as part of an analysis of the existing conditions of the corridor.
Along Grand River Avenue from Beck to Taft Road, there are public utilities on both sides of the road. The western ½ mile of the study area is served by a watermain line along the south side of the road and a sanitary sewer line along the north side of the road. The eastern ½ mile of the corridor is served by a watermain line along the north side of Grand River and sanitary sewer lines located at the rear of the abutting properties.
The corridor is primarily served by 8" sewer lines and a 16" watermain line; however, those properties on the south side of Grand River in the eastern ½ mile of the study area receive sewer service from a 21" pipe at the rear of the property. In addition, 8" pipes tap into the 16" watermain in several locations.
Streets & Rights-of-Way
The width of the existing public right-of-way varies along Grand River Avenue within the study area. Most of Grand River, between Beck and Taft Roads, is located within a 50-foot half right-of-way; however, there are portions within the corridor with a 60-foot half right-of-way and 33-foot statutory half right-of-way.
As indicated on the Daily Traffic Volume Map, July 2000 count data indicates that Grand River Avenue carries over 15,000 vehicles per day between Beck and Taft Roads. Beck Road carries over 20,000 vehicles per day north of Grand River according to June 2000 counts, and over 16,000 vehicles per day south of Grand River according to 1998 count data. No recent traffic count data is available for Taft Road between Eleven and Twelve Mile Roads.
Grand River Avenue between Beck and Taft Roads is very flat in longitudinal grade. Because of this and the relative drainage patterns of abutting land away from the road, Grand River has a very shallow to non-existent ditch line. Heavy rains often result in localized flooding in parking lots and areas immediately adjacent to the roadway.
Three drainage districts cross through the Grand River Avenue study area as follows:
The Bosco District North drains land from north to south along the western ¼ mile of the study area. This area is low lying, predominantly wetlands with an open body of water south of the road. Drainage conveyance for this area is very poor due to the lack of any perceptible slope across the drainage course.
The Taft Road District drains the land on the north side of Grand River Avenue along the eastern ¾ mile of the study area.
The Grand River District drains the land on the south side of the road along the eastern ¾ mile of the study area.