A business that makes wine, mead and beer in Benzie County has been told to stop holding events.
St. Ambrose Cellars has hosted open mic nights, fundraisers and even weddings on the property for several years. But a letter from the Homestead Township zoning administrator said the business is not allowed to do that in their zoning district.
Kirk Jones owns the business, which he built next to his honey bee farm south of Honor. He was shocked when he learned he was being cited for a violation.
“When we got the letter I was actually dumbfounded,” Jones says. “And it was a very succinct letter that said we should discontinue to hold events by February 5 to comply with the zoning ordinance and to avoid further enforcement actions.”
Jones says he thought his land use permit to run a winery also allowed him to host events.
“I felt threatened and also I was saddened,” Jones says. “We worked so hard to build up a very nice destination place for us and Benzie County and our community.”
The Homestead Township zoning administrator could not be reached for comment.
Shannon Purchase, the Homestead Township supervisor, says the violation was issued because of a barn on the property being used for events, not for the winery building itself. He says he’s hopeful the issue will be resolved shortly.
Jones says St. Ambrose Cellars has fielded a number of calls from anxious people who’ve booked events at the location this summer.
“We’re not going to cancel anything yet,” Jones says. “It would be premature. But we’re looking for some positive signs from the township to rectify the situation.”
Jones is currently working at his honey bee farm in Florida, but he’s hired an attorney to negotiate with Homestead Township.