Zingerman's Cornman Farms is thinking about its future


Zingerman's Cornman Farms is at 8540 Island Lake Road. photo by Lonnie Huhman

Zingerman’s Cornman Farms is exploring two options to address the fact that it has outgrown the seasonal tent it uses for its weddings and events.

The Sun Times News (STN) connected with Tabitha Mason, Managing Partner at Zingerman's Cornman Farms, to ask about the potential plans.

“After nine great seasons with our seasonal tent, we've grown the business to the point where we're ready for a permanent, year round building,” Mason said.

On its website, Zingerman’s Cornman Farms bills itself as “a historic, multi-award winning event space, wedding venue and culinary destination just moments from Ann Arbor, Michigan.”

Mason said having a permanent building would “allow us to host larger weddings 12 months a year, provide a great experience for our guests regardless of weather and will eliminate potential noise issues for our neighbors, which we are always very cognizant of.”

They are exploring two real options at this point:

Scenario 1: Combine their three lots, annex them into the City of Dexter, and connect all existing structures, the proposed structure, and the future expansion plans to the city water/sewer

Scenario 2: The entire facility remains in Dexter/Webster Township and remains on well/septic system, which is expanded to accommodate proposed structure

As part of their planning process, Cornman reached out to the city of Dexter to inquire about potentially moving to city water and sewer.

“We've used our own septic field and well water for the past 10 years, but septic and well comes with expense, upkeep and maintenance, so we wanted to explore making a change,” Mason said.

She said the first step was working with the city of Dexter and their team to determine if the system could support Cornman’s needs.

As part of the exploring the annexation of Cornman Farms into the city of Dexter, Mason said they submitted a summary of the existing structures on the property including their size, use, occupant loads, and number of plumbing fixtures, as well as a similar summary for the proposed new building they are currently designing, and some future long term plans for the site to determine usage.

The new building details are still in the rough, early planning stages, but Mason said they are thinking about an estimated size of 8,000 - 10,000 square feet with additional 3,000 square foot covered patio. The primary use would be as an event space with bathrooms, kitchen, bar, and "getting ready" spaces. The maximum occupancy would be for 330 people, including staff.

STN reached out to the city of Dexter to get its take on this possibility.

Michelle Aniol, Dexter’s Community Development Manager, said Cornman has reached out to the city as part of its due diligence in exploring a plan. She said a big part of this is the utilities question and whether or not connecting with the city is the right path for them. She said when the city is presented with a request for information such as this then city officials sit down to talk about it with the townships involved (Dexter and Webster), which they have.

Cornman main facility is located in Dexter Township on Island Lake Road, but it also has land right next door in Webster Township.

If Cornman does connect to Dexter, then the city would need to do an upgrade to the lift station in the Westridge subdivision. Aniol said it’s her understanding the lift station there is already near capacity and any connection to it would lead to an upgrade.

Some of the questions being asked of the city by Cornman include ones about costs and capacity.

Looking forward, Mason said, “We value our relationship with Dexter Township and Webster Township, which is a key reason we're considering staying on our existing system; we also believe scenario 2, building at the back of our property and staying on well and septic, will be faster than the process of annexing into the City of Dexter, which is another benefit. We hope to break ground in late 2023 or early 2024 and begin using the new structure fully in 2025. It will be built back by the pasture/goat parlor on property, to allow us to continue to host events without interruption during construction.

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