The permit process for past and future improvement projects at Spicer Orchards is moving along.

The Hartland Township Board met Tuesday and approved a special land use permit for the farm market and winery on site. It was determined the proposed special use, a farm market and winery, meet standards and is compatible with the township’s comprehensive plan but also add diversity to Hartland’s economy. The special use permit was sought for inclusion of a winery and wine tasting room as ancillary uses to existing operations. The approval was retro-active since repair and expansion work was previously done on site without required building or land use permits from Hartland Township and Livingston County.

In December, the township’s Planning Department was informed improvements were made to the kitchen in the farm market building sans permit or approval. A wine-storage building was also constructed in 2014 under what officials believe was an expired land use permit. Officials found that while the majority of that building was being used to store tanks and grapes, part of it had been converted into a wine tasting room. That was not approved as part of the previously-issued land use permit. Although retroactive, a special land use permit was still needed to allow for the wine tasting room. Officials have noted there have been a number of permits Spicer’s has applied and been granted approval for, which may have contributed to some of the confusion.

Supervisor Bill Fountain says it’s not something that happens very often but things come along requiring everybody to take a step back and make sure they’re working together for the health, safety and welfare of people. He tells WHMI Spicer’s has been around for a long time, along with some other venues, and records and zoning ordinances were a little bit different in the past based on the rural atmosphere of Hartland. Fountain says Spicer’s has added some different entertainment venues over the years including a winery as they’ve grown. He says they wanted to make sure everyone was on the same page for success and now they know where everything is on the site. He says it was good to go through the process and the owners were wonderful to work with.

The special use permit from the township was needed in order for the owners of Spicer’s to obtain a separate land use permit from Livingston County. That permit is required for interior improvements for the wine tasting room and bakery hoods in the farm market building. (JM)