Josh’s Frogs, the largest breeder of captive-bred dart frogs in the U.S., was granted a rezoning of the property at 715 S. Washington Street – the former GracePointe Wesleyan Church – to expand its animal breeding operations. Retail customers will not be a factor at the new location.
Josh’s Frogs, owned by Josh Willard, has been located on S. Elm Street in Owosso since 2013. The company has seen huge growth and was looking for another building for expansion, deciding on the S. Washington Street church.
A virtual meeting of the Owosso City Council on Monday, Aug. 3 led to a unanimous vote in favor of the property rezoning from R-2 Two-Family Residential to B-1 Local Business – allowing for commercial business. The neighborhood where the church is located already has a mix of zoning. Council members discussed the zoning and questioned compatibility for residents, prior to the vote.
The church will be utilized only for animal breeding, though some tours will likely occur. Willard emphasized to council his business was “open to any tweaks council might make” to plans because he wants to be good neighbors.
SEDP President/CEO Justin Horvath spoke to thank council for the vote, expressing that he is happy, both as a neighbor and because it is another tax-exempt property that will now be on the city tax roll. Horvath lives nearby.
Owosso Mayor Chris Eveleth and council member Dan Law both mentioned the increase for city tax revenue due to the rezoning.
Council member Janae Fear explained that she had previously been hesitant because she knew the Washington Street property had been targeted for redevelopment opportunities for multi-family housing needs – something the city of Owosso needs. Fear also said she was concerned about possible future ownership of the building, acknowledging that once the zoning is changed from residential, it becomes business going forward.
Council member Sue Osika shared that she had toured Josh’s Frogs earlier that day and found it “very interesting.” She said she saw some frogs and spiders, and that the tour had convinced her Willard “truly wants to be a good neighbor in that neighborhood.” She thanked him for the tour.
Josh’s Frogs began as a hobby business out of a garage in Corunna before moving to Owosso, and has continuously grown since.