July 15, 2024 Donate

Dexter, Dexter Government

Dexter Township is exploring allowing open air markets

Dexter Township is looking at a proposed amendment to its Zoning Ordinance that if approved would allow open air markets within the township.

The amended zoning ordinance language said the purpose of this is:

“Dexter Township will use Open Air Markets to enhance community dynamics. These markets will play a pivotal role in fostering a sense of community, providing residents with a diverse range of local goods and produce. The initiative aligns with our commitment to developing vibrant, inclusive neighborhoods that cater to households at different life stages. Additionally, by incorporating Open Air Markets as accessory principal uses, the Township seeks to stimulate economic activity, create opportunities for local vendors, and contribute to the overall well-being of the community.”

It defined an open-air market as an “area or space situated outdoors, that is not part of a roadside stand, wherein vendors assemble to directly vend artisan, fresh produce, and agricultural products. Open-air markets include farmers markets and craft shows.”

In her report to the township board, Megan Masson-Minock, Township Planning Consultant, said “The proposed zoning text amendment attached is to allow open air markets and to correct duplicative sections of the Dexter Township Zoning Ordinance. Two businesses, Portage Lake Trading Post and NautiMi, wanted to have an open air market in the fall of 2023.The Township could not allow the market as proposed since it was not allowed as a temporary use.”

Hamlett Lavender Farm was also part of the idea put forth by NautiMi and the Trading Post. The group ended up having their Autumn Farmers Market at the Schell Family Farm, which is closer to Pinckney.

The Sun Times News asked township supervisor Karen Sikkenga about this proposed Zoning Ordinance amendment.

“The current Zoning Ordinance (ZO) only permits sale of fresh produce as permitted by the state’s Right to Farm Act,” she said. “The proposed amendment to the ZO would allow open air markets (which can include crafts or farm produce), no more than once a week, as long as all other requirements of the ZO are met (such as parking and so forth).”

Sikkenga said the Board of Trustees “has access to fresh, local food as a subgoal under the community enrichment transformative goal in our strategic plan.”

She said, “Last year we denied a permit application for a short-term open air market, intended to be once a week for four weeks in the fall, proposed to be hosted on a local farm. Per our ZO at the time, the only allowable sales would have been for produce from that farmer, no other booths. That applicant ended up hosting their event in a different jurisdiction. This change would allow such a market in future.”

The Dexter Township Board is expected to vote on this amendment at their May meeting.