Haserot Beach | Jane Boursaw Photo
Haserot Beach | Jane Boursaw Photo
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Here’s a roundup of recent Peninsula Township news…

Peninsula Farms Condo Development

At their meeting last week, the Peninsula Township Board voted unanimously to approve this development, located at 6960 Center Road, between Pelizzari Natural Area and Wildwood Meadows Subdivision. As this is a Use-By-Right development, the project meets all the requirements set out in the Zoning Ordinance.

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Discussion took place about whether the site plan should include an easement for possible access to Pelizzari if it becomes available at some point in the future. It was decided to keep the language, even though the land where the easement would be located is currently privately owned. The same language exists with the Wildwood Meadows Subdivision to the north.

Read more about the development here.

Peninsula Farms Condo Subdivision Site Plan on the Old Mission Peninsula
Peninsula Farms Condo Subdivision Site Plan on the Old Mission Peninsula

Bella Vue Development

At that same Township Board meeting last week, the Board voted unanimously to allow this project – located about 1/4 mile north of the intersection of Center Road and Bluff Road on the east side of Center Road – to move forward as a Planned Unit Development (PUD), even though at 4.25 acres, the parcel contains fewer than the 20 acres required by PUDs in the zoning ordinance.

Township Planner Randy Mielnik noted that the number of homes has decreased from six to five, due to acreage and topography issues. The Board is also requesting 3D modeling as part of the site plan. The developer asked whether this was necessary, given the cost, but the Board noted that even with smaller developments such as this, 3D modeling is necessary to make an informed decision.

The project will now go back to the Township Planning Commission, where they will review the site plan and hold a public hearing before it returns to the Township Board level. The public hearing is on the agenda for the Planning Commission meeting scheduled for Jan. 25, 2021, 7 p.m. (Unknown at this time whether this will be a virtual or in-person meeting – we’ll keep you posted here on the Gazette).

Bella Vue Planned Unit Development on the Old Mission Peninsula | Old Mission Gazette Photo
Bella Vue Planned Unit Development on the Old Mission Peninsula | Old Mission Gazette Photo

Kelley Park Boat Launch

After some back and forth with the DNR – which owns the Kelley Park property across from Old Mission Inn on Mission Road – this project is moving forward. In 2019, the Township voted to move the boat launch from Haserot Beach to Kelley Park, citing dredging logistics and safety issues with swimmers and beachgoers at Haserot.

After several Township meetings, public hearings and work sessions, the DNR gave the go-ahead on installing a motorized boat launch at nearby Kelley Park. However, in 2020, they came back with a lease agreement that did not include the boat launch, citing wetland, parking and other issues. However, that has since been resolved, with drainage work creating a wetland elsewhere on the property and parking moved away from the beach area.

The current 30-year lease agreement in the works DOES include the boat launch, and Township Supervisor Rob Manigold is meeting (virtually) with EGLE on Jan. 26 to discuss the project further. There will also be at least one more public hearing before officially moving forward. (EGLE is the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.)

Kelley Park on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
Kelley Park on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo

Haserot Beach Shrub Removal

Tying in with the new boat launch at Kelley Park, the shrubs and trees at the north end of Haserot Beach, near where the old boat launch was located, have been removed. This will provide more space for swimmers and beachgoers.

Here’s a look at the section of Haserot Beach where the shrubbery was removed…

Haserot Beach | Jane Boursaw Photo
Haserot Beach | Jane Boursaw Photo

Winery Lawsuit

In today’s Traverse City Record-Eagle, staff writer Jordan Travis writes that this lawsuit, which claims that Peninsula Township’s ordinance violates the constitutional rights of 11 township wineries, will move forward in federal court.

“Judge Paul L. Maloney of U.S. District Court’s Michigan Western District recently tossed out a motion from the township to dismiss their claims,” writes Jordan. “The wineries claim that the ordinance violates their free speech, free expression, exercise of religion and association rights, according to an amended complaint they filed. They also assert the ordinances discriminate against and excessively burden interstate commerce, and in some cases violate state law, among other claims.”

The wineries collectively filing the lawsuit include 2 Lads Winery, Bowers Harbor Vineyard & Winery, Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery, Chateau Grand Traverse, Chateau Chantal, Peninsula Cellars, Hawthorne Vineyards, Bonobo Winery, Tabone Vineyards, Black Star Farms and Mari Vineyard. All but Bonobo are part of the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula Association (WOMP), a Michigan non-profit corporation comprised of member wineries. However, they recently re-branded their website as the Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trail.

The wineries claim that numerous restrictions – including a ban on weddings, limits on what type of branded merchandise they can sell, limits on guest events, and how much OMP-grown grapes they can use – cost the wineries thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

Township Attorney Greg Meihn says this is all covered in a contractual agreement between the township and the wineries. “… they were granted the rights to build and operate in an agricultural district in exchange for their agreement to not only abide by the terms of the findings of facts and creation documents, but [also abide by] the zoning ordinance,” he says.

Meihn expects a hearing on the injunction request later in January. Read more about the lawsuit here.

Also, the longtime community watchdog group Protect the Peninsula has joined the Township in the lawsuit. Look for more info this week on the Gazette.

A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever.

To keep the Gazette going, click here to make a donation. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

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