SL favors small biz employers

Industrialization may become a thing of the past in the Village of Spring Lake.
Marie Havenga
Dec 3, 2013

The Planning Commission is considering rezoning four industrial properties to commercial. They are at 510 Liberty St., 710 Liberty St., the southeast corner of School and Exchange streets, and the southwest corner of Cutler and Exchange streets.

“The long-term vision of the village would not have industrial uses,” Village Planner Jennifer Howland said.

Howland noted that all of the properties under consideration are adjacent to land zoned central business district, so the potential rezoning could not be construed as “spot zoning.”

A craft brewery is likely on tap for one of the industrial parcels on Liberty.

The husband/wife team of Luke Finchem and Kelly Rozema Finchem haven't finalized a location yet for Dutch Girl Brewery, but said it will likely be in an industrial space off Liberty on the north side of Savidge Street. Commissioners indicated it is slated for 510 Liberty St.

The brewery is expected to open next summer and bring with it 3 to 5 jobs, with a top end of 20 employees when the hops are fully hopping.

Planning Commissioner Chip Bohnhoff said he's 100 percent in favor of transitioning industrial to commercial.

“Industrial is dead, plain and simple,” he said. “We need small businesses to create jobs, not a factory. I think it should be changed.”

Long-time commissioner and council member Scott VanStrate spoke against axing industrial.

“I don't ever want to change the zoning over there,” he said. “There are empty (commercial) buildings all over. We don't need more. If the (industrial) owners knew we were even having this discussion, they'd be madder than wet hens at us.”

Howland said the master plan calls for a “town neighbor center” but it is not spelled out as to what that designation entails. In previous master plan discussions a decade ago, Planning Commission members said they wanted to see residential uses above commercial and retail buildings to promote a “walkable” community.

If the Planning Commission proceeds with rezoning, Howland said existing industrial businesses would become “non-conforming uses,” and they would not be permitted to expand.

To read more of this story, see Tuesday's print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



Too bad VanStrate doesn't see the advantage of small business. His dad was the most wonderful small businessman ever.


I have to agree with half your comment. Gene was a GREAT guy. However, I do believe the JR VanStrate is well founded in his concerns. Keep up the great job Scott.


"“Industrial is dead, plain and simple,” he said. “We need small businesses to create jobs, not a factory. I think it should be changed.”"

Wow, talk about ignorance run No wonder S.L. is in the shape it's in with that type of thinking. Ole Chip is a complete and utter moron. Good lord!

I guess the middle class isn't disappearing fast enough for ole Chipper....


If you are going to start up an industry around here, I can see your bellyachin', but you make no sense at all. Industry IS dead here, why can't you see that. Have you tried to get a job in manufacturing here? no. You live right by Eagle Ottawa, or where it was until recently. Thousands of people here were employed there over the years. Brunswick is gone, along with so many more industries that employed so many. Industry is gone, it moved to the township. So when someone thinks splitting an industrial zoned manufacturing sized building (unused for such for years by the way, same with Burnsides) into commercial so many small businesses can start up, you consider him a moron and the consideration ignorance. Small business = middle class, moron. Seems you just have to look in the mirror for ignorance and moronship.


Hmmm, did I hit too close to home here BD? Not sure why you attacked, but After reading your response I went back and read the article several more times to try and better understand what it was trying to say.

Let me try and address your statement.... "Industry IS dead here, why can't you see that. Have you tried to get a job in manufacturing here? no".

Not only do you not know where I live, you don't know me either. I've worked in manufacturing pretty much my whole adult life. Sometimes it seemed that I spent more time looking for a job than I actualy did working. I've worked for a succession of small businesses since I moved here in '77 and almost all of them are no longer in existence. My resume reads like a "what was" as all those places are history now. So, yes, I do understand very well the struggles of manufacturing, probably better than you, although I have no idea how you put bread on your table. I wouldn't wish my experiences on anyone, particulary the last 3 or 4 years.

Industry is certainly at a low point in this area and this country these days. In the country we grew up in there was a strong middle-class that owed it's existence to a manufacturing base. This country in large part prospered because we made "stuff" and sold that stuff to everybody else. Nowadays that's not really the case and a country that doesn't make stuff ends up being dependant on others to make the stuff they need and that's really the start of being a 3rd world country.

You seem quite adamant that industry is dead here. Does that mean it can never come back? or that you don't want it to come back? How many dentists and lawyers does a small resort town need if there's no middle-class incomes to keep them in business? Are you satisfied that we're a "tourist town" and therefore we don't need "real" jobs? Do you really think that most of the small businesses in this area are paying anything close to a living wage? My experiences would have me saying NO. Do you really think that some mom and pop beer making enterprise that will employ a whopping 20 people is going to pay a living wage to their employees?

Even though I was more fortunate than most, being higher up the food chain than the rank and file, I never was what one would call "well compensated". My son currently works at a local stamping plant and here in 2013 he is making the same EXACT wage as I was when I worked there for a time in the mid 80's! That 10 dollar an hour job went a LOT further in 1985 than it does now. If you don't see that as a problem than I really have nothing else I can say to you.

I could go on, but frankly I've been exhausted lately. Since my wife had her stroke last March the days have been divided into "good" days and "bad" days and until recently there has been more good than bad, but the last week or two I've been dealing with "bad" days and it really takes the wind out of my sails. Makes me cranky too....

I will just say that I understand using places like the Old Story and Clark buildings to breathe new life into the area. I'm not against that at all. What concerned me in that article was the fact that Chip seemed to want to get rid of all industry in the area and how are the owners of local successful companies suppose to feel about a stupid statement like that??

You seem to have given up on industry while I feel if we don't reclaim our place in the global manufacturing biz that it won't be long before what was for us growning up is a distant memory and something our grandchildren will never experience. I'm not really sure if I want to stick around long enough to see that happen, but I need to last at least as long as my wife so I know she's taken care of......

If you don't agree with me, that's fine, we'll simply have to agree to disagree and yes, my opinion is still the same about Chip. This comment at the end of the article really concerns me as a visionless statement for the future. Mr Vanstrate seems to understand the need to keep our options open, this closing statement does not bode well for those options.

"If the Planning Commission proceeds with rezoning, Howland said existing industrial businesses would become “non-conforming uses,” and they would not be permitted to expand".

Bad, bad idea. You can't raise kids on a pizza makers salary.

Sorry for the length. I need a nap now.


Anyone remember the Story & Clark building downtown GH? Should that have been left industrial just for the sake of it? So many industries have left cities. Towns have a choice to remain stagnant or progress. I see progression in the name of the middle class here. Small business can lead to big business and should be promoted whenever possible.

Real estate maven

Industrial property can mean distribution/warehouse space and not just manufacturing. This space could likely be adaptively re-used for this purpose or a combination of distribution/manufacturing. Let the market ultimately speak as to what type of space there is demand for NOT planners sitting behind desks who never created a job in their lives. How much vacant retail space already exists in SL? A lot and there is only so much demand for nail salons and pizza parlors. Let the market speak based on viable end users and when it does implement a development vision accordingly. Much more financially viable than planners trying to look into their crystal balls.


Well said, thank you.

Say no to new taxes

Let the free market decide what becomes of those buildings, not a Planning Commission or City Manager who haven't a clue as to what BUILT the Tri-City area. If you really want change, put the proposition to disband the Village of Spring Lake on a ballot and watch what the taxpayers say.

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