By Mike Kruzman /

A popular Hartland Township family attraction has been approved for more outdoor seating.

Back in May, Hartland Township was among the first municipalities to waive zoning requirements for restaurants to help with limited seating capacities during COVID. The understanding was that should an establishment wish to make that space permanent, they would still need to go through the site plan process and get approval.

At last Thursday night’s meeting of the Hartland Township Planning Commission, Spicer’s Orchards did just that. Owner Shannon Rowe was present asking for 2 newly-permanent outdoor seating areas, both adjacent to the main building. The east patio will cover 6,300 square feet and have 12 patio tables. The west patio will be 500 square feet with 6-10 tables.

By township ordinance, outdoor seating is normally limited to 25% of indoor seating. Planning Director Troy Langer said this is usually related to parking and keeps one restaurant from impeding on other businesses. He said that wouldn’t be a problem for Spicer’s. In Spicer’s case, they have 253 acres and most of their parking is not done on a paved parking lot, but in fields. Langer said they clearly have enough space to allow this.

The parking discussion led to a greater discussion about visitors using Clyde Road for that purpose and should something be done about it for safety’s sake. Langer said the township has relied on Spicer’s until now to do their own policing of it. Rowe said that in the past year they have spent a lot of time, effort and money alleviating traffic concerns on Clyde Road. She felt last year was their most successful year in a few years for it. Commissioner and Township Trustee liaison Summer McMullen said she lives in the area and could confirm that last year was less of a problem than before.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved the site plan.

(Photo: Hartland Township Planning Commission Packet, 2/25/21)