E-Malt. E-Malt.com News article: USA, MI: Plans for Mill Creek Brewery in Dexter hit another snag

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E-Malt.com News article: USA, MI: Plans for Mill Creek Brewery in Dexter hit another snag
Brewery news

In Dexter, plans for the new Mill Creek Brewery hit another snag at the City’s Planning Commission meeting on March 7. The Commission held a public hearing to consider a special land use request for the proposed project located at 8180 Main St. in Dexter, the empty parcel across Mill Creek from the fire station, The Sun Times News reported on March 9.

A public hearing is necessary before the Planning Commission can decide on the plans—approve, reject, or postpone. The process has been a frustrating journey for owners Nate Pound and Justin Dalenberg. Their original hearing was scheduled for December 6.

The proposed is a 9,500 sq. ft. single-story restaurant and nanobrewery with outdoor patio seating, accessory retail, a bike shop offering rental and repair, and hiking/biking snacks. The delays and postponements have not been entirely unfruitful, however. The City has worked with the two to resolve water, wastewater, landscaping, pedestrian access, traffic, and parking questions.

Before the hearing opened, Allison Bishop, Property and Development Manager for A.R. Brouwer, told the Commission that Mill Creek Brewery is over a $3 million investment in Dexter and is projected to generate between $80-90,000 annually in taxes for the City.

Ms. Bishop also explained how the project “meets the goals and objectives of the Master Plan such as prioritizing redevelopment, promoting recreational opportunities, investing in recreation as a driver of economic activity, tracking our key brands, creating employment and business opportunities, and fostering continued improvements and redevelopment in Dexter.”

When the public hearing opened, several residents spoke in support of the plans. One resident expressed concern about its impact on other such businesses in town. Another resident expressed concern over the increased bike traffic their rentals could create on the trail.

Following the hearing, Commissioner Jim Carty took a moment to clarify the Commission’s role in reviewing site plans.

“Our job is not to tell anyone whether they should go into the bike rental business or to tell them whether they should go into the brewery business,” explained Carty. “Plans are put in front of us. We decide if those plans meet the requirements that the City of Dexter has. We vote ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

Carty emphasized several times that he supported the plans for Mill Creek Brewery with one exception—the request to waive the parking fee. The City requires a parking fee in lieu of required parking spots for a business.

The City’s codes require 87 parking spaces for a business the size and type of Mill Creek Brewery. The plans for the odd-shaped lot have 44. The City’s fee for each missing spot is $9,000. Mill Creek Brewery plans are 43 spots short, totaling $387,000. The City Council can reduce the cost if and when the plans are presented to it.

In their application, Pound and Dalenberg requested to remove this fee considering the added tax revenue their business is anticipated to generate and the out-of-town business they expect to attract to the downtown.

Carty explained his objection to the request. “The Central Business District uses DDA funds to manage, build, and maintain parking downtown. This parcel is outside of the DDA. So, it’s going to burden the Central Business District but not contribute to it in any way. We have a responsibility to existing businesses throughout downtown to help make sure they succeed and not to burden them. When we waive the parking fee, we subsidize a new business at the expense of our existing businesses.”

Like Carty, the other Commissioners expressed strong support for the Mill Creek Brewery plans but agreed that the parking fee should not be waived for the same reasons.

With the hearing closed and the discussion ended, the Commission would generally decide on the plans. However, it was yet another frustrating moment for Pound and Dalenberg. Only five of the Planning Commission’s eight members were present. Of those present, Commissioner Thom Phillips needed to recuse himself due to a conflict of interest. Since the four remaining members were not a quorum, no decision could be made. The plans are expected back on the agenda in April.

Nate Pound is not a newcomer to Dexter business. In 2017, he purchased Skip’s Canoe Livery and immediately made many needed improvements to make it fun and inviting for the entire family. Nate and partner Tyler Soja intentionally direct customers into Dexter for food, drinks, ice cream, and supplies. He desires to bring that same spirit of collaboration through Mill Creek Brewery.

“We hope to connect these businesses and also collaborate with other willing downtown businesses to create some new, unique, outdoor, recreation-focused, community events,” Pound said in an email. “Our development will bring some new visitors into Dexter who will no doubt explore the entire town. We expect all small businesses downtown to benefit.”

09 March, 2022

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