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Chelsea Planning Commission approves Speedway preliminary site plan

Artist's rendering of the proposed Speedway
Artist’s rendering of the proposed Speedway station

EXP U.S. Service Inc. of Columbus, Ohio, had its preliminary site plan approved by the Chelsea  Planning Commission to construct a 3,900-square foot, single-story Speedway gas station and convenience store on the northwest corner of M-52 and Old US-12.

The 1.74-acre site includes the current Rich gas station and The Wolverine and is expected to include five fuel islands with a canopy overhead. The applicants plan to operate the gas station and convenience store 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.

The company has applied for a special land use permit, which will be considered along with a final site plan at the next planning commission meeting on June 17.

Final site plan items include utilities, grading, underground detention, landscaping and a photometric plan, which examines the lighting of the property.

The proposed Speedway would occupy three parcels of land. Tthe Rich Oil gas station (930 S. Main St.) and Wolverine Food and Spirits (20460 Old US- 12) would be removed to make way for the proposed Speedway construction project. EXP has already purchased the two parcels as well as the adjoining gravel parking lot.

In other business, the planners granted a special land use permit to Greg Raye, owner of at 108 East Middle St.

He plans to construct an apartment on the second floor of the building that recently housed Just Imagine book store and Cranesbill Books before that. The second floor of the building most recently housed the Middle Bead.

He proposes no alterations to the façade of the building.

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17 thoughts on “Chelsea Planning Commission approves Speedway preliminary site plan”

  1. Just great! We loose another Chelsea land mark and all in the name of the almighty dollar!

  2. Mr. Hammer, it’s time to give it up. The redeeming qualities of the Wolverine and the Rich station are long gone. They are poorly maintained buildings on a busy corner, nothing more. The memories will last whether or not a dingy bar and outdated gas station exist on the corner or not. It is time for Chelsea to turn the corner and move on to this century. Is a Speedway facility the best way to move forward? Perhaps not, but it does represent investment, growth, aesthetic improvement, and community upkeep. Nostalgia and the character of a local land mark are some times poor excuses for hanging on to old relics that are not efficient, clean, friendly. It’s time for Chelsea to grow.

  3. Mr. Spirit,
    Sorry pal. If that is how you truly feel about a legendary restaurant and bar please pack your pathetic poor attitude and move somewhere else like, anywhere but Chelsea. It is obvious that you have not lived in Chelsea long enough to appreciate what the Wolverine, the late Joe Merkle and Judy have meant to this community. Please do everyone a big favor and stay away from this establishment while it is still open. I am sure that the will be thousands of patrons who will visit for the last time, enjoy a hamburger or a cold beer, admire the trophy cases and for me, the Christmas lights. It pleases me to no end that you have never shared in any of the fond memories that were made there. I hope you go into the new convenience store when it opens and look around at all of the special merchandise on sale and tell yourself that this is progress and growth. You really are a special kind of dumb.

  4. Over 30 years of memories with wonderful people. But when we lost Joe, even his dad told my wife and I it was time to let it go. Our love for Judy and Joe will stay with us as long as we can remember !!!!!!

  5. Mike Bassett,

    Thank you for the insults, but hardly a proper way to handle a comment about the change coming to Chelsea. I truly hope that your warm and appreciative derogatory statements don’t represent all of the patrons of these soon-to-be-closed establishments, but if they do, good riddance. I can understand your need to hurl insults over the closing of long established businesses that you may frequent, but please recall that it is not I who sold your beloved establishments to the highest bidder nor I who turned their back on the community that you, by your own words, are pleased to have not shared with others. Direct your anger elsewhere. I will be looking towards the future. It’s a future that will survive without an outdated gas station, a dive bar, and smart-mouthed locals that hurl insults in every direction.

  6. Mr. Spirit,

    Your disrespect is uncalled for. Seriously, a 3900 sq ft Speedway, trapping even more traffic in an already too congested corner is right for this community? You feel it is what Chelsea needs “to turn the corner and move on to this century”. It will certainly make for a “catchy” entrance to one of the more beautiful towns in Michigan. —- MIKE BASSETT – YOU DO GOOD WORK!!!

    • I realize that people have differing opinions about this issue, but please, everyone, be civil to one another.

  7. We need another gas station in Chelsea because the other three within a mile of each other are not enough.I plan on trying to remove the clock tower to put in another pizza place because we need another one of those as well. In all seriousness, if the Wolv has to go, I think we can do better than a gas station.

  8. I would like to see an updated sports bar to replace the Wolverine or at another location down the street a very small department store. Something like Target but on a smaller scale. I like to spend my money in my own community and we don’t even have a small department store go to.

  9. I agree, Jamie Holzhausen, wouldn’t it be great if some fabulous miracle business appeared that all could agree on could move to the location? But it’s just not happening, so let’s be pleased someone is going to rehab that corner and invest in Chelsea. Now let’s focus our attention on having Speedway put an aesthetically pleasing building there. Otherwise, we could run them out of town and continue the downward spiral of empty locations as we dream of new developers.
    The Longworth and livery location has been empty for 25 years. Chelsea Village Hardware: closed. Old Treehouse location: empty. Pierce Pastries: empty. Old Police Station: empty. Post Office: empty. Screw works: undeveloped. Chelsea Standard: empty. Pamida strip: 2/3 empty. Liberty Title building: nearly empty. Offices behind Polly’s: empty. UAW/Theatre: still empty. Chevy dealership: empty. Lot next to Sunoco: undeveloped.

  10. I loved going to the bar to eat lunch and dinner at Joe’s place we went with close family. Friends and. To send time together. For 40 plus years together it is sad that next time we visit Chelsea Joe. Bar will be gone

  11. While I sigh at the appearance of another soulless mega-chain in our fair city, realistically, what else was going to go there? Remember when Walgreens was eyeing that spot? Gas stations, pharmacies, and fast food places are what high-traffic intersections seem to breed.

    However, maybe this development will prompt the installation of dedicated left-turn arrows for M-52 on Old 12. The running-red-lights-to-turn-left situation is ridiculous.

  12. Frank: yes we lose another landmark, and yes many (including me) will be sorry to see it go, but isn’t it time to let Judy retire after tirelessly serving the community for over 45 years? Joe was never afforded that opportunity before he passed away almost 1.5 years ago. For as much as he did for the community, he never got to enjoy any years of retirement, and suffered for many of his final years due to sacrificing his own health in the name of helping others in the community. Should our personal opinions of what we want the town to look like direct others on whether they can stop being a slave to their business? Please let go, and let Judy retire and enjoy her family. If anything, you should be happy for all that Joe and Judy have done over the years. It has to do with Judy wanting to retire (which in my opinion she has the right to do), as opposed to the “all mighty dollar” you refer to (as I thing you would agree that she shouldn’t give away the business she spent her life building). It’s not changing the use of the corner as a gas station already exists. If you wanted to preserve the landmark, I’m sure they would have sold it to you if you had come to them to buy it. This is not the first time a potential sale has been in the news, of which I am sure you are aware.

    John: I understand your point that you can’t (and shouldn’t) stop progress, but you have to understand that there are a lot of people who have spent their entire lives in Chelsea and have a lot of memories in that restaurant/bar. It’s kind of like letting one of your children move out of town, or losing a relative, as the “dive bar” you refer to touched so many lives. Again, understand your point, but it’s not always easy to let go. Think about the house you grew up in that your parents still live in being destroyed by fire…it can be rebuilt, but it would hurt to see everything go. I agree we should focus on the vacant parcels as well, and try to attract new businesses to make use of that other land for the betterment of the community.

    Brian: There will likely be new jobs created as well from the expanded gas station open 24 hours and conversion from the small shack they have now, so not sure of the net effect. Don’t imagine it would be that significant either way, and while every job is important, should nothing ever change if one job is being lost? How many jobs did Joe and Judy support over the 45+ years they were there?

    Jackie: It already has a gas station on the corner, and I assume you have tried to get gas there and maneuver through their tiny lot? While the station will get more traffic, you will be taking away any traffic that would have been headed to or from the Wolverine. I haven’t seen any traffic studies saying it would significantly increase congestion, and don’t expect it to be an “attraction” drawing a ton more people to that corner.

    Jamie: As mentioned above, there is already a gas station there, so we aren’t adding one in town, it’s just making the existing one less of an eye sore. Again, pretty sure Judy would sell the bar to you and then you can do anything you want with the location (or maybe not because everyone else would be giving their opinion of what is “needed”). That’s kind of like telling you that you can’t sell your house because the prospective buyer is going to tear it down and build a new house bigger and prettier that the one you live in which also includes a lot next door where a business sits. Some would be sorry to see your house go, but they shouldn’t be able to dictate that you can’t sell because they like your house the way it is…..right?

    Let’s focus on what this means for Judy and her quality of life, as I’m sure Judy and Joe have touched the lives of practically everyone who grew up in Chelsea, and many who have moved or just passed through the town. It’s a cherished landmark for sure, and no matter what anyone proposes for the corner, it’s obvious that nothing will make everyone happy, but let her retire after 45+ years of serving the community.

  13. I will sorely hate to see the Wolverine go. It’s not the age of the building that matters to the people of Chelsea, it is the good times and the memories, the staff was always friendly and the food is spectacular. I do however think that as mentioned before, another gas station is not what Chelsea needs. How about a sporting goods store??? There is alot of recreation and sports in Chelsea not to mention Hunters who would love an Archery shop and Archery range as well as Firearms and maybe a handgun range. We don’t have any of that in Chelsea…we have to travel toward Jackson or Ann Arbor for these things…I think were good on gas stations here!!

  14. I agree that we could use a different type of store on at that location, but it sounds like Speedway is a go.
    We will all miss ‘The Wolve’, close and convenient for lunch breaks, good food. And don’t forget Gary. Thanks Gary for all those years cooking for us!
    P.S. Elvis will have to find another place to sing on Saturday night.

  15. Everybody is worried about Judy getting to retire. But, they’re forgetting all the health problems Joe had and Gary Farmer basically ran The Wolverine while Joe was in and out of the hospital. What happens when he loses his job…..he is the reason the Wolverine didn’t shut down years ago. I hope Judy does the right thing and takes care of Gary cause I believe if Joe was still here he would take care of Gary!

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