Craft manufacturing proposed in Allegan's commercial areas
(Editor's note: This story printed in the Aug. 2, 2018, Allegan County News.) The City of Allegan is proposing an ordinance amendment to allow light assembly as a special use in commercial districts as well as the manufacturing district. Light assembly would allow the assembly of small goods, such as clothing, clothing accessories, small crafts and other artisan products.
A first reading of the special use amendment took place at the city council meeting on July 23. A public hearing was set for the Aug. 13 council meeting. At a planning commission hearing in July, the special use amendment received no comments from the public and was unanimously approved for recommendation to the council.
City manager Joel Dye told council members the city had been approached by potential businesses inquiring about craft manufacturing. One of those businesses, The Sassy Olive, is already established downtown but bursting at the seams in a small storefront at 100 Locust St., where handmade headbands, head wraps, hats, beanies and more are sold.
The owner, Landria Christman, has announced plans to purchase the former Springrove Variety building where Sassy Olive’s headquarters will include an expanded workspace and production of products while also introducing an expanded storefront that will include clothing, accessories, home décor and gifts.
Dye said The Sassy Olive’s craft manufacturing will basically be material and sewing machines, which is currently not permitted in commercial zones.
“They sell their product to the whole world it seems,” said Dye.
Other business interests included such craft items as small signs like those seen on Pinterest, he said. Baker Allegan Studios Fiber Arts Studio and Old Mill Yarn is located in the manufacturing district which allows light assembly by right.
According to Ordinance 472 regarding light assembly as a special use in the C-1 and C-2 Districts, the amendment would allow assembly or production of goods that takes place primarily through hand tools or household-light commercial level equipment, which does not result in the production or emanation of noise, fumes, odors, dust or vibration beyond the space in which such equipment and activity takes place.
The amendment also addresses the allowance of government offices to be able to operate in all zoning districts.
Dye said currently government offices are not allowed in C-1 districts. This not only includes City Hall but the police department.
Giving an update on the Construction Board of Appeals, Dye said the owner of 152 Mill District was given an extended period from 120 days to 180 days to market the building for sale to a potential buyer.
The building had been inspected and ordered demolished within 120 days.
The building’s exterior wall did not have weather protection, a large portion of the roof was collapsed, the 60 foot chimney tower had large cracks, and the interior of the building had been equally damaged due to exposure to the elements.
The building inspector deemed the building unsafe and unfit for human occupancy and said the required repairs would far exceed the value of the building.
Owner Greg Orr submitted an appeal of the demolition order. He thought since the building received little attention over the past 20 years, the city would allow him to repair the building at a pace he could afford.
In the past year, Orr built a sliding entry door for a loading area, installed a new roof in the same area, repaired some roof leaks on the main building, painted overhead and entry doors, and cleared debris outdoors.
The city suggested forming a partnership to sell off the building to a developer. Orr agreed to begin discussions with the city of possibly selling the building and he was given additional time if the building’s exterior was secured, interior hazards removed, and if the building is actively being marketed to developers.