Freedom Motors gets extension of a special land use permit

ALPENA – The Alpena Planning Commission granted a request from the owner of Freedom Motors for an extension of a special land use permit.

The permit originally was granted for the car dealer to sell vehicles on Washington Boulevard where JJ’s Garden Center was open. The needed improvements to the building were not made by Freedom Motors however and as a result the request for extension was needed.

Freedom Motors proposed a timeline for demolition for the old structure and for the process leading up to the construction of the new dealership. But before the board granted the extension to the permit, it added some benchmarks to the timeline. If the company fails to meet the goals within a reasonable time, the permit could be reviewed again and possibly pulled.

City Planner Adam Poll said the commission had three options. He said it could accept Freedom Motor’s timeline and extend the permit, amend the timeline and approve the extension, or revoke the permit all together. Poll said he also recommended the car dealers provided financial assurances there were adequate funds to complete the project.

“During communications it was stated to me that the site plans were more costly than what was anticipated, so one condition staff recommends is to have something from its financial institution to prove they have the capability and cash on hand to cover the construction costs,” Poll said.

Before the commission voted, it was decided the proof of finances must be received by the Feb. 11 meeting. Under the approved timeline demolition must begin no later than April 1 and be completed by April 15, and the construction complete and landscaping done by Oct. 15.

Freedom Motors also must provide monthly updates to the city on the progress being made on the project, which then will be reported to the planning commission. Building Inspector Don Gilmet said the timeline dates have a little wiggle room, such as delays due to weather or other elements that are out of the store owner’s control.

The commission also discussed objectives and goals from the city’s comprehensive plan that could be implemented in the next year or two. The list will be used by Poll and city staff to move to push toward the initiatives.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at