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PC approves plan for old James Lumber property

An artist rendering of the facade and landscaping changes Steve Stoll plans to make to the vacant James Lumber property. (click for larger version)
November 25, 2009 - Chalk up another victory for the free market and the entrepreneurial spirit.

Steve Stoll got the green light he needed last week from the Oxford Village Planning Commission to transform the vacant James Lumber property (43 E. Burdick St.) into a multipurpose commercial enterprise.

"I'm really excited to get going on this," said the 38-year-old Brandon resident. "I had a lot of trouble there at the beginning, but I got everything smoothed out."

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve Stoll's site plan and special use permit for the property contingent on a list of nine conditions being met.

That list included things like the need for a no-parking/fire lane on the plan; having a parking agreement in place allowing Oxford United Methodist Church to use the business' lot at certain times; and making certain aesthetic and landscaping changes to the existing building and property.

From the 3.5-acre property, which includes a 19,469-square-foot building, Stoll plans to sell, service and rent power equipment; sell landscape materials on a retail, not wholesale, scale; and operate his existing landscape business, the Lake Orion-based Hi-Hill Lawn Service.

"It's just one of those things where the business can really grow in that location because it's so big. A lot of the traditional lawn mower stores are pretty small," he said.

Stoll's store will sell all the big names in power equipment including Stihl, Cub Cadet, eXmark, RedMax and Scag.

"Those are the main lines," he said.

He plans to open sometime at the end of March 2010. Between his operation's three facets, he's looking to hire somewhere between 19-23 full and part-time employees.

Although he initially encountered a few bumps from certain folks during the approval process, Stoll preferred to dwell on the positive.

"I did get a lot of support from the village council and planning commission," he said. "I invited everyone out to the site to show them exactly what my plan was. All but one village council member came out and all of the planning commission came out. They took two hours out of their day to walk the whole site with me. I thought that was really nice of everyone."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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