Years ago, when we moved our main bakehouse to Chesterfield, we were sad to take our 40+ employees out of town. But we were not able to get the city water and sewer that we needed in order for us to continue baking. The hook up for these services was only about ¼ mile away. The township of Armada said we would have to pay to lay pipe and bring the city waterworks system to our bakery. This, we could not afford.
It was inevitable, we had to find a building in an industrial area. We found a beautiful building about 15 miles away in the city of Chesterfield, Michigan.
Our birthplace on North Ave. in Armada township got a nice remodel. We borrowed $250,000 from the bank for this project and worked on a budget that helped us figure out how we were going to be able to pay this loan off. As we started pulling permits at the township hall, they told us we would have to re-do the parking lot, and add underground drain holes, a huge deceleration lane and put cement curbs all around the whole parking area. We didn’t understand why we needed this huge upgrade to our business’s parking for a 1,200 sq. ft building. These ‘upgrades’ would cost us another $100K. Now, this had turned into a $350,000 project?! We were not expecting this. The township couldn’t provide us with the services needed to run business, why then, did our business have to provide all the amenities to handle water? You see, we are on a 10-acre farm and the rainwater that fell onto our little parking lot always ran onto our farmland and orchard, our apple trees and soil welcomed that water. It wasn’t making sense. This was not the rules or regulations when we first started our business in 1993 in the township. When did these new rules come about? We were surprised.
Later, we found out that a big fancy engineering firm sold our little town of Armada some big city municipal plans. These plans, that our township officers adopted, were designed for Detroit and the Metro Detroit areas that were sprawling! Places like Hall Road, if you’re from around here you know Hall road is the busiest road in Macomb County and has huge big box stores and franchises in giant strip malls and gigantic parking lots. Developers and businesses need to abide by these big city rules and ordinances drawn up by these engineers. These areas are all cement, black top, roofs, and buildings, and rainwater has nowhere to go. They need big storm drains and a plan to treat millions and millions of gallons of water. Achatz Pie shop in Armada does NOT need a giant storm drain.
In Armada, we want to conserve the rainwater and we welcome it back into our soil and farmland. This concept, the big city engineers didn’t understand. Or maybe they did, but they had an opportunity to sell some new fancy development plans for our small town. I should have stood up to these engineers and lawyers who talked our township board into buying these plans. I or most of the people in our area never knew what happened. Some of the business that built after the adoption of these silly rules got away without having to put very expensive cement parking curbs around their parking lot and their rainwater gets to runs into the surrounding field areas. Good for them. I wish I would have known what they did. Should have filed for a variance.
One person did warn us but we didn’t move fast enough. Very expensive lesson! If you start your own business, read carefully and ask a lot of questions. And if these ordinances don’t make sense, question them and be ready to explain why they don’t. You may save yourself a ton of money and aggravation. But if these rules and regulations are necessary and do make sense, and after doing your budget for a build-out, you find that you won't be able to make it pay for itself, you may have to go to plan B. That may mean you can’t open a shop in that particular area. Don’t give up on your dream, find another spot or area that is conducive to business.
You can watch my video here.
Wishing you all the best,
Growing up on my family’s small farm created some of my best childhood