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Posted on Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 11:10 a.m.

Dexter planners decide Jolly Pumpkin's tasting room is a compatible use in industrial park

By Lisa Allmendinger

The Jolly Pumpkin can move forward with its plans for a tasting room as part of its plan to create a manufacturing facility for beer, wine and spirits in the village.

The Dexter Village Planning Commission unanimously agreed Monday night that the proposed tasting room for Jolly Pumpkin/Northern United Brewing Company’s is a compatible use in the village's industrial park and that the business owners should apply for a special use permit to make it happen.

Permitted uses in the industrial park zoning district include research, manufacturing, light industrial and testing uses. Special land uses include restaurants and child care for employees, recycling centers and fitness centers, according to the ordinance.

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Jolly Pumpkin plans to turn a Dexter building into a brewery, winery and small distillery with a tasting room.

“This is testing, it’s testing beers, so it’s a testing method,” said Planning Commissioner Marni Schmid, which got all the commissioners laughing at the end of a long meeting as they discussed this unique situation.

Last week, the Village Council granted Northern United Brewing Company LLC doing business as Jolly Pumpkin, new licenses to allow a brewery, winery and small distillery, making way for the company to redevelop the 68,000 square foot building in the industrial park at 2319 Bishop Circle

The license includes on-site consumption for a tasting room, and this is where the Planning Commission must get involved because it’s a unique situation for the village, said Allison Bishop, community development director.

“Special land use review permits the village to review special land uses, such as a tasting/sampling room, to provide for greater flexibility to integrate land uses within the village,” Bishop’s memo to the Planning Commission states.

Commissioners decided the tasting room was “an accessory use to the brewing operation.”

About 4,000 feet is planned for the tasting room, which represents less than 15 percent of the total gross area of the building. The room would be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., while the manufacturing of wine, beer and spirits would take place around the clock.

Northern United is owned and operated by Ronald Jeffries, Jerry Carlson, Linda Wilke and Andrea Lobdell. Jon Carlson and Greg Lobdell are officers of the company and will be the general managers of the facility, according to a letter from Linda S. Mayer, of Adkison, Need and Allen of Bloomfield Hills, attorneys for the company.

The company has three locations, in Dexter, Traverse City and Ann Arbor, and plans to relocate its headquarters to Dexter from Ann Arbor.

No site improvements are planned. The building is located in the center of the Dexter Business and Research Park and is surrounded by roads on three sides, according to information from Bishop.

“The office and retail portion of the building is located on the east side of the building and the vacant property is located on the west half of the parcel. The main entrance to the office/retail space is off Bishop Circle East,” she wrote in her memo to the Planning Commission.

Initially, the owners expect about 2,000-3,000 yearly visitors, who will tour the brewery, then taste the products.

“We will also have industry experts and panels come in to taste our product, so we can develop new flavors and brewing techniques and procedures as the industry grows, changes, and adapts,” Carlson said in information provided by the company.

It's expected that the applicants will apply for a special use permit in time for the July 2 Planning Commission meeting, and a public hearing will take place, which will be followed by Village Council action later in the month.

Planning Commissioners Scott Bell and Derk Wilcox were absent from the meeting.

Lisa Allmendinger is a regional reporter for She can be reached at For more Dexter stories, visit our Dexter page.


Dog Guy

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 12:01 a.m.

Will there be live music?


Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 11:25 p.m.

Bravo Dexter - this one's been nice to watch....progress supported.


Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 3:49 p.m.

I've tried drinking it several times and i'll still have one if that's where my friends want to go, but Jolly Pumpkin beer tastes like soap to me.


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 12:01 a.m.

I have to agree. I was real excited a few years back when I realized my home town had a brewery, but it is rather soapy tasting. I like the grub they have at the Ann Arbor location though.