The Putnam Township Planning Commission is continuing to work on a new agritourism ordinance that will allow flexibility in events but keep discretionary power with officials.

Planning Commission Chairman Michael Porath said they began working on the ordinance last spring when resident Chris Shell approached them wanting to hold more events at his wedding barn than the township allows. Shell owns 250 acres north and east of Pinckney High School. In addition to wanting to run around 30 barn weddings a year, Shell and his family also have plans to turn the large property into a family destination. He said he envisions a “u-pick” Christmas tree farm, fruit orchard, walking trails,a market, bakery, playscapes, and seasonal events like a Haunted Forest and Santa experience.

Planning Commission Chairman Michael Porath said they’ve read about wedding barn problems in Dexter Township and that those are problems they aren’t looking to duplicate in Putnam. He said they are trying to accommodate Shell, but mostly protect the neighbors and people of the township from things big events bring, like sights, smells, and noise.

Township Planning Consultant Brian Borden told the planning commission he is working on drafting an ordinance that will take an existing rigid set of restrictions and make them flexible. Borden continued by saying, however, that it needs to be written so as not to open the door for other people coming into the township to abuse. Incorporating the idea of discretion can keep power with Putnam Township officials and better protect neighbors of those holding large events. Borden said his goal to have a new draft prepared in time for next month’s meeting, after which a public hearing can be scheduled. (MK)