You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Ann Arbor City Council denies zoning request for sausage company that wants to expand

By Ryan J. Stanton


The Ann Arbor City Council rejected a zoning request from Walt Hansen and Hannah Cheadle, the couple who moved home to Michigan from New York City to start a sausage-making business and wanted to be able to expand their Ann Arbor operation.

Janet Miller | For

Walt Hansen and Hannah Cheadle, the couple who moved home to Michigan from New York City to start a sausage-making business, will not be able to expand in Ann Arbor.

At least for a while.

The Ann Arbor City Council voted 9-0 Tuesday to reject their request to re-zone the half-acre property on State Street to C3, a commercial designation that would allow them to expand retail operations and pair their sausage and jerky with microbrews and local wines.

"For the near-term, a year or two, they are pretty much frozen in place for their business expansion opportunities," Wendy Rampson, the city's planning manager, said of the impact of the council's decision. "They can establish their business, they can continue to sell goods that are made on the property, but they had hoped to expand to more of a retail flavor operation."


Wendy Rampson addresses the Ann Arbor City Council Tuesday night.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Hansen and Cheadle, who opened Biercamp Artisan Sausage and Jerky near the Produce Station last year, have been fighting a zoning battle ever since.

That's because they established their business on rented property that just happened to be an island of Ann Arbor Township land surrounded by the city of Ann Arbor.

The City Council agreed last July to extend city sewer service to the property, eliminating one of the hurdles. The city then agreed in October to annex the township island the sausage business sat on into the city limits.

But the council refused Tuesday night to grant the business owners the zoning they sought, following the advice of the city's planning staff and Planning Commission.

The city's master plan designates the Biercamp parcel M1, which is a light industrial zoning designation. The city's planning officials recommend the M1 zoning, which they say closely matches the township zoning for the property and allows for the existing uses on site.

That would allow Hansen and Cheadle to make sausage and jerky, but they could use only 10 percent of their floor space for retail. According to the business owners, that would mean only 140 square feet, and that wouldn't allow them to sell the craft beer and Michigan wines they've been wanting to pair with their sausage.

Council Member Tony Derezinski, D-2nd Ward, reminded council members the Planning Commission unanimously recommended denial of the zoning request.

Derezinski, who also serves on the Planing Commission and has a background in municipal law, argued it could be considered "spot zoning"

"The fact is you're really destroying the idea of predictability when you start to do what could be threatened as a count in a lawsuit to be spot zoning," he said.

Derezinski also pointed out the city is in the process of conducting a thorough study of the State Street corridor and the land uses along that stretch.

"We're moving along on that for the State Street area, which is going to become extremely busy when the new store at the end of it — the Costco store — starts pumping thousands of people onto that road very shortly," he said. "And the other thing, it has not been rezoned in a long time, so therefore the mix of uses there has to be re-looked at."

Council Member Margie Teall, D-4th Ward, said she could see Biercamp sausage becoming — if it's not already — "a much-beloved business."

"So I would very much not like to infringe on their business and I hope that either way they can expand business and thrive," she said.

Rampson explained what might happen from here on out.

"So if we were to proceed and move forward with a different zoning than what they requested, they could still continue operating as a non-conforming use," she said. "However, if the proposed zoning that was anticipated in the master plan — the M1 zoning — was put on the property, they couldn't expand their retail operations. Right now they're still subject to the township zoning until we put a fix on for the city zoning."

Rampson said her staff will have to go back to the Planning Commission to put a temporary zoning fix on the property until the State Street corridor planning effort is done.

She said she believes if two years go by after the annexation of the property into the city limits, and the city doesn't put a zoning fix on it, the property becomes un-zoned.

"And anything can happen," she said. "So we would want to put a placeholder zoning on, probably the M1. In the meantime, we have the State Street discussion going on and they are clearly a stakeholder in the corridor now. They would be a part of that discussion and can advocate for whatever they feel is appropriate as a part of the State Street planning effort."

Derezinski said he's personally a fan of the Biercamp sausage business and has been there about a half dozen times.

"This is a good business. They have expansion plans," he said. "And I think the planning commission, frankly, bent over backwards to figure out a way that we could be consistent with them. Eventually it's going to be worked out and it's just a matter of waiting.

"That's the kind of business that we want, but we have to make sure that we're doing it in an orderly fashion so that everybody along there sees the predictability that zoning is intended to bring. It's going to be an exciting corridor study because of the businesses involved along there. And it's, again, one of our major thoroughfares all the way to I-94."

City officials have expressed concerns that making an exception and granting C3 zoning for the Biercamp business could lead to unintended consequences, such as a fast food drive-through setting up shop on the property if Biercamp ever moved out.

Council Members Christopher Taylor and Carsten Hohnke were absent.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Sat, Feb 25, 2012 : 2:30 a.m.

We told them to open in Traverse City. It is not spot zoning when 2 of their boundaries are C1. (Produce Station & strip mall behind) There is no light industrial businesses anywhere on S State. This comes under "there's no reason for it, it's just our policy". I would advise Walt and Hannah to get the he'll out of A2. Any city would love to have a couple with talent like this.

Left is Right

Fri, Feb 24, 2012 : 2:17 a.m.

Perhaps they can relocate to the top of the Garage Mahal (if it's ever done).

Left is Right

Fri, Feb 24, 2012 : 2:02 a.m.

Ah, the "Master Plan." Very funny. We're working toward that Simpsons episode.


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.

I wonder if they know Abe Froman, the sausage king of Chicago.

sun runner

Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

I will continue to pour money into the Biercamp Zoning Woes Fund by upping my visits to the business from once to twice a week. So, so glad this place is located only a mile from my office! (Habanero Fire Sticks are the bomb.)

T Wall

Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

My name is Tom Wall and I am considering running for Mayor for the third and final time I am a small business owner and strongly believe that the City of Ann Arbor must do more to make sure businesses do well, especially when road or building construction is affecting their business. I don't take the stand that business will come and go and that's the American Way. A few years ago a business on the West Side of Ann Arbor was losing customers because our city was repaving West Stadium Blvd. His business could not be seen from the road so the owner asked the city if he could put a sign out by the road to let customers know he was still in business. Unfortunately, the city said no because of an ordinance. Sadly, It didn't take long for him to go out of business. We need to protect our mom and pop businesses, that's what Ann Arbor is all about. Recently, Herb David recently talked at a City Council meeting about how his business has declined because of construction of the new underground parking lot next to the downtown library. The city needs to be more aware and extremely sensitive when roads and parking lots are closed for an extended period of time. Please contact me at if you would like to help my campaign for Mayor.


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 12:16 p.m.

I understand the concern about not wanting to risk legal issues with accusations of spot-zoning... but there still seems to be a LOT of buck-passing by the city council in this particular case. If they have a good idea that the study will lead to a favorable outcome for this business in two years then it's rather ridiculous to make them wait two years for the inevitable to happen. The only "predictability" being preserved is that you can bank on the city council to move at sloth speed when it comes to actually making a decision. Well, they're quick with useless resolutions to support or oppose international events... but not when it comes to anything that actually matters locally! Once again the city council is sending out a rather anti-business signal. When you're trying to rebuild the economy you don't tell a business that wants to expand "Meh, wait two years alright?" You realize what is being asked for isn't the end of te world and you employ some bold leadership to get things done!


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 10:55 a.m.

Ridiculous. This will end in fiasco as this couple looks elsewhere and A2 ends up with another empty building in a corridor that is already devoid of life. That they want to expand in an area that is currently a bridge-building disaster area and traffic nightmare shoud be celebrated. Dear residents of Ann Arbor: STOP re-electing these folks.


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 12:46 a.m.

Sure. Make it easy for the chain stores to displace local businesses in the heart of downtown/campus & make it oh-so-difficult for new independents to thrive or expand in these mysterious "island townships" within the city. Why support something interesting & distinctive, when you can just plop another generic chunk of garbage everywhere? City Council, you are lame & should be ashamed.


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 12:34 a.m.

Looks like the Lil Sausage trying to be the Big Kielbasa isn't gonna happen thanks to city council...


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 10:13 p.m.

While I agree that it's a shame this request is being denied -- sounds like a great addition to that area -- CB, you most certainly can get fresh groceries without going outside the downtown area: Sparrow, Knight's, PFC, Babo, to name just a few places. I also consider Biercamp's location outside the downtown area. So I'm not sure if you're on point exactly, but I think anything that encourages diversification and expansion of a successful business should be supported.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 9:47 p.m.

Come move your business out to Dexter! We are business friendly and have space - love to have you!


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 8:16 p.m.

Sausage and Beer. Hmmmmmm.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 7:49 p.m.

hey we have had fast foods on main street before. why the change now.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 6:45 p.m.

ASTOUNDING!!! AnnArbor city council is way off base on this one! I have to agree with other posts...if it were Zingerman's it would be just fine. From someone who remembers life BEFORE Zingerman's let these people expand their business and grow business diversity in Ann Arbor.

Spencer Thomas

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 6:13 p.m.

If I'm reading the zoning map correctly, the Produce Station land is still a township island. I guess that's how they're staying in business. Zoning maps: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> The relevant map is &quot;Section 1204&quot;.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 6:09 p.m.

Can't add much but put me in to the &quot;Shame on Ann Arbor&quot; crowd. This really makes the city look like crap. Give me Sausage or give me Death!


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 6:07 p.m.

Leave the city now and save your business future. I moved to AA 10 years ago , buying the whole friendly city , neighborly line. What a huge mistake. Not a practical bone in the place, particularly zoning, planning or whatever they call it. Move out a few miles and have your future determined by you not &quot;the City&quot;. Your customers will follow.


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 10:57 a.m.

Worked great for my company too.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 6:56 p.m.

Worked great for Kitchen Port.

Martin Church

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 5:42 p.m.

Let's give up on Ann arbor and move the business to Ypsilanti. We have a number of locations to support the business near our downtown. Ypsilanti City Council, it's time to make the offer and get business back in our city.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 5:06 p.m.

Walter and Hannah, come to downtown Ypsilanti! there are some great shops moving to downtown Washington and W.Michigan Ave. you have such an awesome business I'm sure you would be welcomed with open arms, it would cost less to operate. There's a wonderful business community that would support


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

It'd be nice to have reporting that actually describes what the various options are and the consequences of these options. If the city wants to allow more retail (which seems very appropriate for that area, rather than &quot;industrial&quot;), is there zoning that would prohibit a drive-through or limit the number of parking spots? Or would any zoning change that accommodates Biercamp open up the property for yet another (mini) box store in the future? It sounds as if this business will probably move, perhaps out of Ann Arbor, if the City can't change the zoning by the time their lease ends. Let's hope the limitations current zoning imposes doesn't kill them first. Yes, I'll be among those who patronizes their store in hopes they can survive long enough for the City to act.

Travis Wylie

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

People keep mentioning they relocate. They relocated business into Michigan, and Ann Arbor, where it is sorely needed, and now you suggest they pack it up and take it elsewhere? Maybe they will just decide to pack it up and relocate back out of Michigan. Great way to encourage more businesses.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 4:44 p.m.

Went to Biercamp for the first time last week and loved it! There is an incredibly easy way for every single person who thinks this is either a stupid decision or an unfortunate situation to support this business. SHOP THERE, and then do it again, and again, and again.

David Cotton

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 4:42 p.m.

If the zoning commission isn't directly voted into office then people who control their jobs are (at some level). The citizens need to do more than just click their &quot;like&quot; button on article. If the elected officials aren't making decisions the way you want them to then get up and do some campaigning. I see a lot of people voting approval of messages supporting the business, I wonder how of those same clickers are willing to do more than click a button on the mouse.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 4:40 p.m.

Is it possible for the time being for them to just have one of everything in bottles up front, and then retrieve the item from the back once the customer lets them know what they want? It has worked at Canadian beer stores for years. Nothing more exciting than watching your case of Molson Brador make its way down the line.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

yeah, no business should ever go for re-zoning or expansion. Just look what happened when that truck yard turned into the produce station after they got re-zoned years ago (sarcasm) I frequent both spots &amp; this is a shame.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 4:17 p.m.

First of all, great business. Second, it's too bad they didn't do their homework. If they had, they might have picked a location zoned for this kind of business (like West Stadium) and equally accessible. Personally, I'm glad that we have master plans and zoning. I'm all for more tax revenue. But zoning also keeps small businesses from opening strip clubs or kennels or marijuana dispensaries or liquor stores or dry cleaners (with all their pollution) or car washes wheverever they want. (And all of those perfectly valid small businesses don't belong in certain locations.) I agree, the sausage / wine business / retail use is probably appropriate for a newly envisioned South State Street. Great, let's change the master plan for South State Street. But, spot zoning? Please don't waste my taxes on defending against all the suits that will inevitably ensue. Do it right and do it consistently through public planning processes.

Travis Wylie

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 4:15 p.m.

If they wanted to add public art to their business it would have passed 9-0.

John Q

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 3:47 p.m.

The concept of doing your homework and following the rules appears to be foreign to most A2 commenters. The business owners selected a location without bothering to see if they would be in conformance with the city's Master Plan and if the city would allow the zoning after annexation. The City Council followed its zoning ordinances and Master Plan. When it stops doing that, the city starts getting sued by property owners. That's unfortunate for this business but the problem is entirely of their own creation.

Left is Right

Fri, Feb 24, 2012 : 2:04 a.m.

Some of us don't follow rules. We change 'em.

Bernhard Muller

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 4:39 p.m.

In defense of the business owners, it is quite possible that when they started they had no idea that the business would be greatly improved by sales on site. So at the time the zoning was not a concern. And, yes, with a new business plan, perhaps they should consider a move. But given the location, and the need for business and jobs in Ann Arbor, flexibility in zoning, particularly this issue: manufacturing and sales in a manufacturing areal, seems like a win-win for Ann Arbor and the business.

Ron Granger

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 3:37 p.m.

The city has done a lot for them. If they wish to keep expanding, perhaps they should find a more suitable location.

Ron Granger

Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 2:22 p.m.

They would not have the business if they city had not agreed to annex the location from the township. The city did not do that to get more taxes, they did it to accomodate a young business. DonBee, you seem to suggest they should not have to comply with the laws and rules that we are all subject to. These folks bought or leased a property at a low price that reflected the zoning limitations. Now they keep pushing to change it. When does it become enough?


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 11:09 p.m.

The city: 1) Annexed the building raising the taxes 2) Charged them for a water hookup 3) Charged them for a sewer hookup 4) Sends them bills for water and sewer use 5) Ran them through a multi-month process twice (once for the annex and once for the zoning) 6) Charged them application fees for each step of the process 7) Charged them for building permits and inspections Yes, I agree the city did a lot for (TO) them.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 3:27 p.m.

Ridiculous decision. Here you have a young couple looking to expand a small business in the area and the council throws up silly obstacles. That stretch of State Street is fine for businesses to expand. As another poster mentioned, if it was Zingerman's, it would have passed. And these Township &quot;Islands&quot; are ridiculous. No excuse.

Frustrated in A2

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

Just on face value this doesn't make the city look good. I hope there's a lot more going on behind the scenes that we're not being told. And I hope there is more to this &quot;spot zoning&quot; thing that isn't being explained. I am trying to give the city council the benefit of the doubt on this one (I don't know why though as I typically am not a fan of their work lol).

John Q

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

Nothing fancy going on. The business owner didn't do their homework, selected a location that the city didn't plan for that use and now they are stuck because the City Council followed the city Master Plan.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

I wish this article explained the context better. The city has a plan for what types of businesses should go where. That's not unreasonable. The owners of this business started it in a location that was zoned for making their products, but not for having a retail store. Apparently they didn't do their homework, didn't check the status of the area, or maybe they did and thought they could get a special exemption. Do commenters really want the city to get into the business of one-by-one special exceptions to the zoning? Doesn't that create the kind of crony-ism we don't want? Doesn't it also open up the city to lawsuits, when they give some businesses exceptions but don't give them to others?


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 11:07 p.m.

Epengar - Oh, how I wish you were right and this was cut and dried. The couple leased space in the Township, they were told that the building was ready for their business. Then the county stepped in and said &quot;no water/sewer hookup, no business&quot;. The couple worked with the city to get the building annexed. They paid for the water and sewer hookup. They explained what they wanted to do. &quot;No problem&quot; they were told, here is the process. So they went through the process, thinking they knew that it was OK, they had been told it was &quot;no problem&quot;. Then after working the process, the city slammed the door on them. If the city had said upfront &quot;not going to happen here&quot; I doubt that the couple would have sunk the cost in the water and sewer hookup, and the issues with annexing the property into the city. I don't blame them, I blame the real estate agent (who is a professional, local and should have known), the landlord (who is a professional, local and should have known) and the city officials (who are professionals, local and should have known). Three sets of professionals led this couple down the primrose path.

Bernhard Muller

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 4:33 p.m.

I think the problem is in how the zones are defined. It seems to me that to allow sales in an area zoned for manufacturing is not a bad thing. Allowing manufacturing in a residential or sales zone could be intrusive. In other words, in a hierarchy of residential, sales, manufacturing, it seems to me something in the list above should always be allowed in a lower listed area, so residential and sales allowed in a manufacturing area, and residential in a sales area.

Frustrated in A2

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 3:27 p.m.

I guess this is a better way of explaining what I was thinking, good job Epengar!

Andrew Jason Clock

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

Over here in Ypsilanti, we have lots of suitable buildings with the proper zoning , and even some redevelopment liquor licenses available. We love independent and original food concepts. We may not have a great city council, but we can do better than this.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 2:51 p.m.

I love it! The article above them is about an illegal camp that is allowed to stay. I also remeber when I was struggling to open a business and I saw a bar from Chicago located downtown open just a day or two before Art Fair. Isn't that special. It's who you know and who you . . . . Welcome to A2!!! p.s. Good luck.

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 4:46 a.m.

the camp is OUTSIDE a2.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 3:06 p.m.

It's all about who you know and free bacon.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

Welcome back to Ann Arbor...oh there's been a few changes...the liberals now take themselves seriously.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

I bet if they were downtown contributing to parking dollars it would be different. Seriously, these people work so hard and they have a great product but out government wants to be stupid and stand in the way of people who are trying to promote our local economy. What a shame. I love Pat's Chili. Yum.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

I would like to see how sausage is made.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 4 p.m.

I made some once, never again. It's hard work. Spent over 16 hours making 48 variable length/shape Italian sausages. And they were mediocre quality. It makes more sense to buy them from qualified sausage makers.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

This obviously has nothing to do with zoning. Sue the city. Claim you worship the holy sausage, and your religious rights are being violated. Claim ethnic discrimination. Claim whatever you have to in order to make the city look bad. People will support you in an effort to appear politically correct, even if they don't know what they're talking about.

Jim Keine

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

Another business being controlled by small town politics. Look for them to move to a friendlier locale in the near future.

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

Oh if you want to open a breakfast/brunch cafe without a permit in a residential neighborhood and have Council Members hang out on a Friday morning and sip herbal tea and tres chic egg dishes (next to a school) without to getting a permit or training your workers in health permit requirements, the City and County will bend over backwards to dodge legal problems by letting you call it a non-profit fund raising enterprise, even as hundreds of cars clutter your neighborhood. Hey, you can even be listed as a real life restaurant on YELP. But try to start a real tax paying business...sorry chump!


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 9:26 p.m.

Have not heard of Selma's, now I am curious...


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 2:40 p.m.

I wondered how &quot;Friday Breakast Club&quot; got away with having a defacto restaurant next to Eberwhite school in a residential neighborhood. Until I saw who was frequenting the place, as Mr. Goldsmith pointed out. Sometimes it's hard to to have faith in our system when one business has to bend over backwards to fit zoning laws while another &quot;business&quot; appaently enjoys the favor of city officials. As with most small towns, it's all about who you know. First rule of Friday Breakfast Club: Don't talk about Friday Breakfast Club.

Audion Man

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

Not just hundreds of cars- thousands, perhaps tens of thousands. I believe the capacity of Selma Cafe is about 100,000 people. It is a blight upon Ann Arbor. *rolls eyes*


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

They knew the rules when they moved into the space.


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 10:59 p.m.

Clownfish - Actually they did not and their real estate agent and landlord did not help them understand. Then they paid the city to extend water and sewer and annex the property. The city did not have the kind of discussion that would allow them to understand the rules for the annexation. So this young couple was lead down the path, spent money and then had the door slammed on them. The problem is the professionals who should have helped them understand, did not. I do not fault the couple in question - I fault the people who did not tell them the whole story.

Stan Hyne

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 11:20 p.m.

When they moved in to the space I don't think it was in the city.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

Let's vote council out in November! Or recall it!

Audion Man

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

My God people... the zoning commission and the city council are Ann Arbor's thin blue line... protecting us from anarchy... Imagine, if you will, a post-apocalyptic future, with no zoning... Sausage factories popping up randomly... in anyone's neighborhood... ...even *yours*. I, for one, applaud our trumped-up bureaucrats! Making the world safe for ZingSausage. Protecting Ann Arbor's children from disordered jerky production. Get on your knees and thank God for them.

mike gatti

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 8:51 p.m.

I love the opium den, or prostitution ring. No those are illegal at least in our neighborhood. I don't know what goes on in other parts of town.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 8:19 p.m.

SO there are limits you would place on businesses. Now it is a matter of degree, and that is what zoning laws are about.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 7:01 p.m.

Audion Man said: &quot;Of course, I'd very much like for you to point me to a case where the Zoning Commission rejected a request from a opium den/crack house/bordello.&quot; Actually, I would like either one of you to point me to a case where the Zoning Commission APPROVED a request from an opium den/crack house/bordello. I think those businesses generally establish themselves without the benefit of a full, fair and considered review by the Zoning Commission. I don't live in Ann Arbor, but I'm pretty sure that they're also not in keeping with the Master Plan.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 2:40 p.m.

Yes clownfish, because doing away with zoning laws means we also do away with all laws, so illegal businesses will just be everywhere! (Sarcasm)

Audion Man

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

Clownfish, I would trust that your average elected official could distinguish between a small jerky factory and an opium den/crack house/bordello. Of course, I'd very much like for you to point me to a case where the Zoning Commission rejected a request from a opium den/crack house/bordello. Although, now that I think about it, it sounds like one hell of a franchise idea.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

Would you support an opium den/crack house/bordello next to your neighborhood school? All good, solid businesses that would produce tax revenue.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

It seems that the majority opinion is that the city should eliminate zoning altogether or rezone at a whim whenever someone makes a request. So if I decide that I want to run a kennel out of my neighborhood house they should rezone my property to allow it. Zoning isn't applied on a random basis. Cities and townships develop master plans an zone according to that plan. If you start to allow zoning changes that don't fit the master plan you open yourselves up to law suits for anyone who doesn't get what they want. However, I do not see what the review of this area would take 2 years. If you look at the businesses along S.State there doesn't really seem to be any light industrial. Those businesses seem to be confined to S. Industrial Dr.

mike gatti

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

Yeah, this is just like running a kennel out of your house. Exactly like it. Spot on.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

I read this article and don't understand much of it. But one thing that is clear - this has to be the most convoluted set of reasoning I have ever seen. Can't government every make anything simple? I bet most of the 9 voters had no idea what what was going on here.

John Q

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

It's very simple. The business located in a location where the city doesn't allow the kind of use they wanted. If they had done their homework, they would have realized that.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.

What is wrong with &quot;Fast Food&quot;? &quot;granting C3 zoning for the Biercamp business could lead to unintended consequences, such as a fast food drive-through setting up shop on the property if Biercamp ever moved out.&quot;


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

The Ann Arbor City Council never ceases to amaze me. Now, in this economy, they say we don't need business expansion to create new jobs in Ann Arbor. The city's planning manager certainly wouldn't buck the council for fear of her job. I guess the only thing small businesses can do when they wish to expand is to expand elsewhere. What a shame!

Jimmy McNulty

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

I guess they didn't kiss city council's ring long enough.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

This is my favorite Ann Arbor business. I go there weekly, I love to talk to the proprietors, and I wish them nothing but the best. However, Mr. Derezinki is completely correct that this would be &quot;spot zoning&quot; which could have a number of very unfortunate consequences in the long term. You can't just look at it and say &quot;they are targeting a nice couple!&quot; You need to look at the totality of the circumstances of what this rezoning would mean and how it could impact other zoning requests going forward. Less anger, more research.

mike gatti

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

It is just a matter of waiting? Gee thanks Tony D. Margie Teal basically says I am sure you will be successful no matter what I do to sabotage your efforts (if it was an organic dog sweater store I wonder how this would have come out). So let's see J. Garden and Earthen Jar two other small businesses who just have to wait until they finish the darn street. Biercamp just has to wait. Even Zingerman's had to pull teeth to expand because of a burnt out building. In the meantime Main Street and Liberty look like they have summer teeth with the empty businesses dotting them. You can't tell me that two departments and city council couldn't figure out a way to get this done. You have people willing to throw in their chips and risk their savings to start a business and they get, this gibberish?

Left is Right

Fri, Feb 24, 2012 : 2:13 a.m.

Lack of business acumen in city government. Fear of making a &quot;wrong&quot; decision (conservatism). Look where it goes.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

Bring it on over to Ypsilanti. The Wurst Bar just opened, and things are turning around. You won't get the zoning runaround here.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

If they have $1, they can probably buy the entire Water St. fiasco.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.

Shame on City Council, and shame on the Zoning Board. We should be encouraging new businesses and helping them through their mistakes, not chasing them away. Also, Biercamp's food is excellent. Especially try the peameal bacon. Wow...

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

Another example of broken Government. We the citizens of Ann Arbor would be better off if people like Wendy Rampson were employed elsewhere. This was a &quot;justify our existence&quot; decision that in no way served the citizens of Ann Arbor. If I were King I would allow the expansion, and I would send city council and the mayor in their rooms without supper.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 4:14 p.m.

I'll add to my rant... Its not like they were asking to put in a porn shop across from an elementary school. On part of State Street nobody would have known the difference except the customer base of the business. Which heaven forbid might even grow.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

actually that NOT why I'm not King. Surely you knew that? I'm a guy with an opinion like anyone else in here. In my opinion the master plan was not sent down by God. The master plan has flaws. The master plan needs to be fluid when logic dictates. I think this is one of those cases. The notion that the master plan is carved in stone is NOT one I subscribe to.

John Q

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

That's why you're not King. Most businesses and residents appreciate that zoning ordinances and the Master Plan are respected and followed and not thrown out because a business owner didn't do their homework.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1:13 p.m.

So no SausageFest? Just proves that Ann Arbor is anti-sausage.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

This is Exhibit A of why zoning laws are stupid and evil. Deny an up-and-coming business their opportunity to expand in the name of &quot;predictability&quot;? Seriously, am I reading that right? &quot;Predictability.&quot; For whom, exactly? Are they worried that the existence of a retail operation among &quot;light industrial&quot; parcels will cause passing drivers to experience whiplash due to the unpredictability of it all? How is &quot;predictability&quot; more of a benefit to the community than a viable and growing local business? Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid. That's one &quot;stupid&quot; each for the City Council, the planning staff, the Planning Commission, the master plan, and zoning laws in general.

John Q

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 3:38 p.m.

The business owners should have done some due diligence before choosing that location.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1 p.m.

Both of these issues seem to be examples of the decision-makers losing sight of common sense in the name of following the rules. It's the job of the historic commission staff and the planning commission to make recommendations, BUT it's the job of the Historic Commission and City Council to take those recommendations and then apply reasonable judgment to make a sensible decision. Perhaps council and the Historic Commission should step back for a second and look at what they are rubber-stamping and the image of ridiculousness that they are creating for the entire community of Ann Arbor.

Left is Right

Fri, Feb 24, 2012 : 1:58 a.m.

I kind of enjoy the clown show. What else would we have to comment on here?


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

Sorry, was referring to this story about Biercamp as well as the recent story about the split-rail fence on the OWS.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 12:59 p.m.

Council is standing in the way of sausage/alcohol pairings? Oh, the humanity!

Matt Damon

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 12:56 p.m.

The city of senseless rules. I'm sorry they weren't warned before coming to A2.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 12:55 p.m.



Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 11:51 a.m.

By far, the best comment I've ever read on this site! :-)


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

come east across 23. ypsilanti loves small business... plenty of room for expansion


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

Please come to Ypsi, I hate going to A2. I feel like I need a shower everytime I go to A2

Racheltarek Kombucha

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 12:40 p.m.

Sad, sad, sad. I grew up in Ann Arbor and boy has it changed. This city council is ridiculous and conservative. I agree that this business will likely leave the area in time. Thank God my business is in Ypsilanti where they actually support small business growth and diversity! Well, we do have some say at the voting booth....

Left is Right

Fri, Feb 24, 2012 : 1:55 a.m.

Absolutely correct. Totally conservative yet they don't realize it.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

No, she's right, they're conservative. Fear of change resulting in an overwhelming desire to keep things exactly as they are? Conservative.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

You're right except for the term conservative.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 12:20 p.m.

Bet that if it were Zingerman's asking, it would have passed 9-0.


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 5:38 p.m.

If he was Abe Froman it would have passed too. You know Abe the &quot;Sausage King&quot; of Chicago.

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

You know, I think you are absolutely right! It is sad but true.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

You're right, seldon. Money can buy anything!


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

Bull. It took them years to get permission to tear down a burned-out shell of a house. Zingerman's eventually wins things because they have the resources to fight over time.

Basic Bob

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 12:06 p.m.

This is a great little business and a good location for it. It's a rather rustic setting, between the railroad tracks and the golf course. Mr. Derezinski is clueless if he thinks either Biercamp or Costco will have any impact on this stretch of State St. Do what's right, all this government imposed order and predictability were not needed when it was a township island. As far as fast food drive-thrus, there are better places to put a Burger King or McDonalds - right down the street where they already exist.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 11:55 a.m.

I predict that within 2 years the business will move or the owners will decide that it does not produce enough money and close it. When we look back the zoning issues will be the underlying reason. While they did not do a good job initially of understanding the zoning, and their landlord/real estate agent blew it, this is crazy. I suspect other people are looking at this fight and going &quot;do I really want to be in Ann Arbor?&quot;. The city council and planning commission did a horrible job of working thru the issues with these people when they started down this path. If a comprehensive discussion had been done up front between the parties - one zoning decision would have done it all. Now it is like a leaky faucet slowly eroding the trust of city government. The new Ann Arbor slogan should be: Ann Arbor home of the BANANA (unless you are a FOH)


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 11:52 a.m.

This is totally disgusting. A young couple come to Ann Arbor to start a business, apparently are doing well, wish to expand which will employ more folks, and the city says &quot;no&quot; -- get with it Ann Arbor council. As mentioned in another comment, there is just way too much government in our lives. Best wishes to the youngsters who are trying to move ahead.


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 4:10 a.m.

Carole, While I wish the couple well - they clearly did a poor job in picking their location. Starting a business is more than having a good product or idea, it is about good planning and execution as well.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 11:43 a.m.

This is ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS. When I moved to Ann Arbor there were all sorts of diversified businesses. Now it is all coffee shops, overpriced clothing and restaurants. You can't even buy fresh groceries without going outside the downtown area, and even then everything is overpriced and/or not fresh


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 3:57 p.m.

White Market has fresh produce as well...


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 4:58 a.m.

What about Farmers Market? Or the market inside Kerrytown? Expensive, yes, but at least you know where it's coming from.

Patti Smith

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.

I agree that it is overpriced clothes and restaurants, but you can buy plenty of fresh fruits and veggies at the Peoples Food Co Op or Sparrow Market.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.


tom swift jr.

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 11:42 a.m.

On the north end of Main street the council is worried about boarded up houses, on the south end of State Street they are keeping a great little business from growing. Ann Arbor government is a curious animal.