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Jolly Pumpkin's Dexter Expansion Inches Forward with Planning Commission Approval

The Dexter Planning Commission is recommending that the village council approve a special land use request at its meeting Monday.

The Village of Dexter could soon be added to the growing list of destination attractions for beer connoisseurs if approval is granted for a tasting room for .

Northern United Brewing Company, LLC., the parent company of Jolly Pumpkin, to the Dexter Planning Commission to redevelop the former Martinrea building, located at 2319 Bishop Circle East in the industrial park in Dexter as a beer and wine distillery with a tasting room.

The plant is expected to manufacture 24 hours a day, serving Jolly Pumpkin's three locations in Dexter, Ann Arbor and Traverse City, while the tasting room would be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The Planning Commission approved the land use request for a tasting room at Dexter's Business and Research Park following a public hearing on Aug. 6.

"How are we distinguishing between a tavern and a tasting room?" commissioner Molly Wade asked.

Allison Bishop, community development director, proposed that the village include a definition of a tasting room in its ordinance. A tasting room is considered an establishment that allows customers to taste samples of wine, beer, or other alcholic beverages and has a State of Michigan issued liquor license.

"This isn't a destination spot like our downtown businesses. I imagine people would come, taste the beer, buy products and leave, with the whole process taking an hour or less," she said.

Chairman Matt Kowalski inquired about the size of the samples and how much traffic the brewery expected.

"We expect roughly 100 customers a day between customers, distributers and wholesales," co-owner Jon Carlson said. "We'd like to be able to have 3-ounce samples as well as growlers to go (a glass or ceramic jug) to our customers who visit the tasting room."

Trustee Paul Cousins said he welcomes the new business, but expressed hesitation with the restrictive hours placed on alcohol licenses.

"We need to be as business friendly as possible," he said, arguing that the village should allow for the tasting room to be open until midnight or longer if the company hosts special events such as an Oktoberfest celebration.

"This is going to be a wonderful asset to the community. I don't think they should be able to serve food like a restaurant, but I don't want the company to be restricted on the use of the tasting room," Cousins said in a previous interview.

The council will consider the special land use request at its meeting tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the .

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