BERRIEN SPRINGS — The former Cultivate Brewery site on Shawnee Road could be getting new life as a winery/brewery business called Shamrock Station. Oronoko Township Board members on Tuesday recommended approval of a new liquor license for that location.

Berrien Springs resident Jon Johnson attended the township board meeting to report on his plans. He said he wants to open Shamrock Station on the former Cultivate Brewery 20-acre site at Shawnee and Lauer Roads as early as next spring.

Board members gave their stamp of approval to his request for a new winery/brewery license, which will now go to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission for final approval.

Johnson said his background includes time spent in Georgia as a wine distributor. One of his unique specialties will be making sulfite-free wines, a product important to people allergic to sulfites.

He told board members that he doesn’t plan to open a restaurant, instead relying on food trucks to provide food for visitors. The land there is zoned agricultural, which allows for wineries and breweries to operate without having to get any special use permit.

Johnson did say that he’s looking at possibly building a golf driving range to create another use on the land. Township Supervisor Mike Hildebrand noted a golf driving range could require getting a special use permit from the township.

Hildebrand said he’s glad to see the site once again be used. 

Cultivate Brewing Company owned by Nicholas Kuhn was the first winery/brewery type business to occupy that site four years ago. When that venture failed, Elkhart restauranteur Cam Snyder in 2017 announced plans to buy the site to open a restaurant and brewery.

Snyder’s project never came about after Michigan Department of Environmental Quality officials wouldn’t allow another septic system to be placed on the site.

Also Tuesday, board members got their first look at the 2020 township budget. The board will hold a public hearing on the budget and approve it at their Dec. 10 meeting.

Hildebrand said the new budget reflects some of the priorities the board has been discussing in recent months. The budget will set aside $100,000 for the local match for the state grant the township got to develop a new park near the public safety building on Snow Road. Two $20,000 line items will pay for a new roof for the township hall and a new vehicle for the fire chief.

The new budget also sets up a fund for the contributions and construction of the sewer extension to the northwest side of the M-139/U.S. 31 interchange. The project is expected to cost $1.5 million, with the township chipping in $350,000. Honor Credit Union will contribute $1 million and the Kerlikowske family $150,000.

The proposed general fund budget calls for $1.32 million in revenue and $1.7 million in expenditures. Hildebrand said the township’s contribution to the sewer extension project as well as its local match for the park project account for most of the deficit. He noted that the township will end this year with $1.4 million in reserves.

In other action, board members approved an ordinance revision on accessory buildings. The revised ordinance was developed by the township planning commission after several months of study.

The new ordinance doesn’t change the definition of an accessory building. However, it adds language about securing buildings to the ground, and relaxed the rear property line setback requirements. The discussion began when Building Official Rich Kubsch reported that several property owners were putting up large storage buildings that were not affixed to the ground.

Hildebrand also reported on the status of the Lemon Creek apartments. Township officials have been working with the property’s owners to either demolish or renovate the building. It now looks like it will be soon be sold to another party, who plans to renovate the building.