HomeTop StoriesAdrian College neighbors seek answers about sports dome

Adrian College neighbors seek answers about sports dome

ADRIAN — Residents of the neighborhood along the northwest corner of Adrian College feel the college has not been a good neighbor recently.

They also feel like Adrian city officials could have done more to tell them that the college would be presenting a construction project to the planning commission.

That project, which had its groundbreaking May 13, will result in an inflatable dome that is expected to reach a height of 90 feet being placed between the college’s baseball stadium and track and field facility.

“I think we have let our feelings be known to the planning commission and the city commission,” Jill Bakewell, a resident of Canterbury Street, said Friday morning. “…We can’t stop this. We’re still angry and upset about it.”

A mound of dirt is pictured Friday where crews have been preparing the site for Adrian College's new inflatable sports dome. The dome, which is expected to be used by several athletic programs including football, soccer, lacrosse, rugby, and track and field, has become an issue for nearby residents. The apex of the dome is expected to be 90 feet high.

Already set in motion, with dirt being moved through excavation, Adrian College is in the process of constructing what it calls a “state-of-the-art” indoor sports dome.

The indoor turf facility, which was highlighted during the college’s State of the College address April 5, will be used by several athletic programs including football, soccer, lacrosse, rugby, and track and field and will be available to the greater Adrian College community.

“With 50 different teams, field space and time is hard to find,” new Adrian College football coach Joe Palka said in a news release issued April 12 about the State of the College address. “This will not only create more opportunities but will also improve on the success Adrian currently enjoys.”

With the athletic dome, Palka said Adrian College is setting itself apart from its competitors and is building a “great recruiting tool.”

Not everyone shares the college’s enthusiasm regarding the dome.

Residents living in neighborhoods near the college — Canterbury Street, Renfrew Avenue, Inverness Drive, Shrewsbury Avenue and Stratford Avenue — have voiced their frustrations, displeasure and concerns about the dome during Adrian City Commission and planning commission meetings dating back to early April.

They have raised a laundry list of concerns including what they describe as the city’s and the college’s lack of transparency and communication in notifying residents about the project, the potential effect the dome will have on property values, water runoff and soil erosion, any sort of property damage residents might deal with should their basements flood during a storm, noise ordinance violations, increased light pollution and traffic, and planned usage of the dome.

See also  A Holocaust survivor will mark that history differently after the horrors of October 7

Instead of expressing anger and frustration, Tim Bakewell during the planning commission’s May 7 meeting, said the city could have done more to notify nearby residents about the dome project instead of doing the “bare minimum.”

“You folks have got to work on transparency, so the citizens know what’s going on and that they’re being fairly represented,” he said.

Tim Bakewell, who lives on Canterbury Street in Adrian, points across a field of dirt Friday to the area where Adrian College's planned sports dome will be built. The dome has become an issue for the college's neighbors, like Bakewell, over the past several weeks. The apex of the dome is expected to be 90 feet high.Tim Bakewell, who lives on Canterbury Street in Adrian, points across a field of dirt Friday to the area where Adrian College's planned sports dome will be built. The dome has become an issue for the college's neighbors, like Bakewell, over the past several weeks. The apex of the dome is expected to be 90 feet high.

Tim Bakewell, who lives on Canterbury Street in Adrian, points across a field of dirt Friday to the area where Adrian College’s planned sports dome will be built. The dome has become an issue for the college’s neighbors, like Bakewell, over the past several weeks. The apex of the dome is expected to be 90 feet high.

The Bakewells have lived at their Canterbury Street residence for 38 years. It is where they raised their children. The house has been within the family for at least 60 years, Jill said.

“We should have been given the opportunity to ask questions and express our concerns regarding the building of the Adrian College dome prior to the passing of the project of this magnitude. It shouldn’t matter how this project is zoned — ERO (Educational, Research, Office district), commercial, industrial, etc. — the culture of secrecy needs to change,” she said. “All we are asking is to get our questions answered.”

The Bakewells are among a group of residents who have been persistent in their search for answers about the dome, reaching out for comments from planning commission members and city commissioners as well as attempting to contact Adrian College directly in efforts to hold meetings with the college and the project engineers. Such a meeting with Adrian College is in the works for this week, Jill said.

“It is my hope that a huge lesson can be learned from this,” she said. “Not only will this affect our property values it will affect our quality of life. We will either have to move or endure the view of the dome for the rest of our lives.”

Residents have said they feel “betrayed” by both the city government and Adrian College for the decisions being made about the sports dome. They are willing, however, to work together to ensure something like this never happens again.

Approving the dome’s site plan

March 12 was the special meeting date when the planning commission reviewed and gave its stamp of approval to the proposed indoor practice facility. The city published a legal notice Feb. 23 in the classifieds section of The Daily Telegram about the meeting. The notice mentioned a bank drive-thru project but not the college’s project.

See also  California voters can decide whether to require financial literacy in school. Do they have to?

In terms of mailing notices to residents, costs are quite considerable, Adrian City Administrator Greg Elliott said May 6. Much of the community development department’s budget goes toward the cost of postage to send mailed notices when required. The city commission recently tasked Elliott with creating a weekly emailed administrator’s update that people can subscribe to at no cost. Each week’s Friday update contains information about city happenings and items placed before the city’s governmental bodies.

A notice about the planning commission’s March 12 special meeting was included in Elliott’s March 8 administrator update. A second update about the result of the planning commission’s meeting was included in the March 15 email update. Both times, Elliott referred to the dome as an indoor practice facility. His March 15 update somewhat clarified the practice facility as an “inflatable dome.”

“How much is enough is the question?” Elliott said. “(The city) has a budget and we are supposed to do the things we are supposed to do, and more costs money and we don’t have more money. We do what is required in terms of notice.”

Because Adrian College provided a site plan to the planning commission for review there was no need for the city commission — Adrian’s top legislative body — to review the proposal.

Site plans are generally administrative in nature and procedural, Elliott said. They have no requirement to be reviewed by the city commission.

“This is a college building in the ERO district. As such, it is permitted by right,” he said.

Besides there being no height restrictions in the ERO district, there also are no landscape requirements. As of now, neighborhoods near the college’s campus where the dome is being built are envisioning a view of the dome practically within their backyards.

See also  Hezbollah fires dozens of rockets into Israel after attack kills commander

Jill Bakewell’s brother, who is an architect from Birmingham, Michigan, mocked up some renderings of what the dome might look like within the neighborhood. The dome is drawn to scale in a computer program called “Sketch Up,” Bakewell said in an email. Similarly, the houses are placed into the “Sketch Up” model and are drawn close to scale based on Google Earth images.

“Do they prove anything? No. It just helps give a visual of what we are going to look at,” Canterbury Street resident Tim Allshouse said.

This photo rendering shows what residents on Canterbury Street in Adrian and the surrounding neighborhoods could see when a planned athletic dome is fully constructed on the campus of Adrian College. The house within focus of the rendering is the residence of Jill and Tim Bakewell on Canterbury Street.This photo rendering shows what residents on Canterbury Street in Adrian and the surrounding neighborhoods could see when a planned athletic dome is fully constructed on the campus of Adrian College. The house within focus of the rendering is the residence of Jill and Tim Bakewell on Canterbury Street.

This photo rendering shows what residents on Canterbury Street in Adrian and the surrounding neighborhoods could see when a planned athletic dome is fully constructed on the campus of Adrian College. The house within focus of the rendering is the residence of Jill and Tim Bakewell on Canterbury Street.

There are height restrictions and landscaping requirements for every other zoning area throughout Adrian. The city is currently involved in a complete rewrite of its zoning ordinance. Attention will be paid to the ERO district, relative to its dimensional requirements, the city said.

“That’s how the ERO district was written whenever it was written,” Elliott said. “All the planning commission could do was apply the rules that are in the zoning ordinance related to property in the ERO district.

“…It was a compliant site plan and they really had to approve it.”

Due to a technical error on the part of the city, the planning commission’s March 12 special meeting was not recorded and there is no known recording of the meeting, Elliott clarified during the city commission’s May 6 regular meeting. Minutes from the meeting are posted on the city’s website, adriancity.com.

Planning commission chairman: Project was not a ‘discretionary decision’

The May 7 planning commission meeting was the last time residents approached the city during a public meeting about the dome.

After hearing from the Bakewells as well as Sue and Tim Allshouse, planning commission Chairman Mike Jacobitz not only thanked the residents for sharing the information with them but he also expressed empathy for their situation.

“If this were my neighborhood, I would feel the same way that you do,” Jacobitz said to Jill Bakewell at the May 7 meeting. “I am sorry. I would feel the same way. However, in this particular case, the die is cast. This was not a discretionary decision. This was a site plan.”

Adrian College has broken ground on the construction of its inflatable athletic dome. The location of the dome, pictured in this photo rendering, is between the college's baseball and softball fields and the track and field area.Adrian College has broken ground on the construction of its inflatable athletic dome. The location of the dome, pictured in this photo rendering, is between the college's baseball and softball fields and the track and field area.

Adrian College has broken ground on the construction of its inflatable athletic dome. The location of the dome, pictured in this photo rendering, is between the college’s baseball and softball fields and the track and field area.

Like Elliott’s explanation of a site plan, the planning commission’s only responsibility and its only tool of measurement, Jacobitz explained, is to compare the project’s proposal to a set of criteria, a set of rules and regulations.

If the site plan meets those regulations, “then we have very little discretion as to whether we approve or don’t approve,” he said.

“If it meets the regulations, we are obligated to approve it,” he said. “In this particular case, it did.”

Subscribe Now: For all the latest local developments, breaking news, and high school and college sports content.

The Adrian Planning Commission’s role is to establish and enforce regulations for the use of private and public land.

“We are trying to be solution-oriented now. We are still angry,” Sue Allshouse said at the May 7 planning commission meeting. “I don’t know how we let it go.

“… We want the best for our community, but not at the expense of our living,” she said.

— Contact reporter Brad Heineman at bheineman@lenconnect.com or follow him on X, formerly Twitter: twitter.com/LenaweeHeineman.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Telegram: Adrian College neighbors seek answers about sports dome

- Advertisement -
RELATED ARTICLES

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments