County Seat Newspaper
of Clare County

Taco Bell and Biggby Coffee Site Plans Approved

Tacos and Treats Coming to N. First Street



Cleaver Staff Writer

HARRISON – Next and decisive steps have been taken to finalize the sale of the .41-acre former DNR building property at 714 N. First St. in Harrison. The buyer? That would be Great Lakes Taco, LLC, whose plan for site development was approved March 12 by the Harrison Planning Commission.

Presenting that site plan were Greg Lautzenheiser of L&A Architects in Rochester Hills, Mike Wizynajtys of REC Engineers in Ortonville, and Bob Grabowski, chief financial officer of Great Lakes Taco, LLC, Grand Blanc. The trio delved into the details of making this tiniest of commercial lots into a functioning, fast-paced food retail site.

Commissioners were shown actual samples of the exterior cementitious materials which will be used on the building, as well as being provided details of how drainage will be handled through use of porous surfacing that drains into large perforated detention pipes over catch basins. That area also will serve as large-vehicle parking. That will be important for buses, although it was the unpreferred answer for CCTC Director Tom Pirnstill’s question about the drive-thru window overhang height. The overhang will not accommodate a bus drive-up.

The possibility of light pollution into the park was noted, and Grabowski said the intention is to be a good neighbor an if a problem arises, it will be addressed.

Grabowski said the site would feature interior seating for 24 and employ five people per shift.

Commissioners then approved a motion to accept the site plan. Thus, the only remaining hurdle was Harrison City Council approval of the sale of the property. And, right on cue, that was accomplished at Monday’s Council meeting. So, it was on to demolition followed by all the infrastructure and building construction needed to meet Grabowski’s stated goal of “selling tacos by the Fourth of July.”

The second site plan to be reviewed was presented by brothers Mason and Tim Packard, owner/operators of the Biggby Coffee in Clare. Their plan calls for developing the former Big Joe’s car sales property at 717 N. First St., which is across the road from and a bit north of the just-approved Taco Bell. Their two-lot property lies between Hang’s Chinese and Harrison Realty.

The Biggby plan was highly detailed and included general notes, an existing topographic survey, demolition plan, site plan, site details, and a grading plan, along with various specifications.

Bob Grabowski had cited that food services outlet growth is aiming for expansion into smaller markets, and the Packards’ vision aligns with that.

Tim Packard noted that in the brothers’ first year in their Clare site, which opened in December 2022, their store sales ranked No. 3 in the nation – yeah, in the nation – which speaks not only to the standout accomplishment it is, but also to their entrepreneurial commitment to the community. He said that also speaks to reaching out to smaller markets as being the trend, and that he is excited about the Harrison site and expects to do well there.

Tim Packard informed that employees would number up to six per shift during busy times and that the goal, although a hard one to meet, is to be open for Memorial Day.

Having gone through the 20-point site plan questions, Commissioner George Muscott posed some site-specific questions about screening and light leakage into the neighboring residential area. It was suggested that some shrubbery screening could prevent some customer headlight intrusion, and urged the Packards to visit the site in the evening hours to get a realistic view of what headlights problem could arise and how to best avert it.

Commissioners then approved the plan, pending the approval of the zoning administrator as regards headlights into the neighborhood.

Other business for the evening included election of Harrison Planning Commission officers. After the usual joking discussion of who could be elected due to their absence, commissioners moved to reappoint officers to their current positions: Stacy Stocking as chair, George Muscott as vice chair, and Andy Saxton as secretary.

After discussing the possibility of changing meeting frequency, it was decided the Harrison Planning Commission would continue to meet at 6 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month. The only change would be for meeting cancellations to be posted the preceding Wednesday to better ensure residents who wish to attend will not learn of it through a note posted on the City Hall door.


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