Preliminary plans have received the first step of approval for a microbrewery in Howell Township that aims to serve as a neighborhood hangout with an industrial aesthetic.

Preliminary site plans were reviewed Tuesday night by the township’s Planning Commission for “Schmuck’s Brewing Company”, which would be located at 4944 Mason Road, adjacent to American Concrete Products. American Concrete Products owner Brad Jonckheere plans to turn a vacant and decaying office building on the property into a fun neighborhood hangout geared towards families featuring food, craft beers, wines, and spirits, along with both indoor and outdoor activities. Among those Jonckheere is planning for are cornhole, fire pits and plenty of space to sit and relax outside and, possibly in the future, walking and biking paths.

Planner Paul Montagno says the 10,000-square-foot building, expected to have two-stories and a deck on top, has “an interesting look”. At the Planning Commission’s meeting, members had positive comments for the proposed business, with member Carolyn Henry saying the building’s unique industrial design will bring a new perspective that’s “fresh” and “cool”. Commissioner Wayne Williams also stated that he liked the look of the proposed design, especially as it neighbors a concrete supplier.

Jonckheere says the microbrewery will match what’s already onsite with a shipping container entrance and bridge at the back of the building, adding that the establishment “will certainly catch your eye”. The Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of preliminary site plans to the Board of Trustees, who will take the item up for consideration at a future meeting.

4.24 acres of the site where the microbrewery will be built received rezoning approval in 2017 with that portion of the property being rezoned from agricultural industrial to neighborhood service. In February of 2018, the township's Board of Trustees approved Micro Brewer, Small Wine Maker, and Small Distiller licenses for the business. The three licenses will allow the brewery to brew and serve several thousand barrels of alcohol each year. (DK)