Bonobo Winery on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
Bonobo Winery on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
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(Old Mission Peninsula resident Bud Stych has a few thoughts on the lawsuit filed by OMP wineries against Peninsula Township. The wineries claim the township’s ordinance restrictions are causing them to lose thousands of dollars each year. Read more about the lawsuit here. -jb)

It’s unfortunate that a group of wineries on the Old Mission Peninsula decided to file a lawsuit in Federal court, even though Peninsula Township was cooperating with them to seek solutions to accommodate their desired changes.

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Obviously, the wineries were not pleased with the way things were going or the speed of the negotiations.

The wineries are commercial businesses and want to make as much money as they can. This is America, and that’s fine. However, they cross a line when the changes they want conflict with what the community wants, as evidenced by a recent Peninsula Township survey, which showed a majority of residents oppose continued winery growth in the Township. (Read the results of the survey here. -jb)

The wineries knew the rules at the time they were established, but now they want to change them. They have extensive resources and can hire expensive lawyers in Grand Rapids, while Peninsula Township’s resources are relatively meager, since they have to use taxpayers’ monies to defend their ordinances.

It’s time for the wineries on the Old Mission Peninsula to realize what they signed up for when they were established. You shouldn’t build a winery based on a township’s ordinance, and then expect the ordinance to change based on your wishes.

(Editor’s Note: 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. -jb)

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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  1. True, Its like buying a piece of property and then expecting to put a factory on residential zoned property. So they knew the rules. What I would like to know is if the recent Michigan statutes take precedence. Its not really what I like. It is only what is the law. Can anyone explain the Michigan law.

  2. Totally agree with this perspective. What the wineries want to do will fundamentally change OMP and they’ll kill the golden goose they so covet. Unneighborly and arrogant on their part. They knew the rules when they built.

  3. To point out what should be obvious, many rights of American people and American businesses, from integrated schools to Citizens United, have been determined to have nothing to do with “what the community wants”, even if they “knew the rules” from the start.

  4. One might think that living in Napa Valley or Bordeaux or Tuscany was a hardship. And a local law against selling logo wearing apparel is just mean. And of course romantic couples want to get married among the vineyards. ‘Not in our vineyards you don’t’ is also just mean. It may turn out to be legal or not; but it is still mean.

  5. Enough is enough. There is so much alcohol being consumed our children can’t cross the road safely. We are being bullied by big money!

    • no! you look left, you look right. if a car is coming, you don’t cross. alcohol doesn’t make cars appear out of nowhere. and anyone who thinks your wineries have big money just doesn’t know what they are talking about. if you want to make a small fortune in the wine industry, start with a large fortune.

      • Drinking and driving don’t mix! Children don’t always do as you would hope! I know for a fact at least one winery is doing very well!

        • when children don’t do as they are taught, sober drivers are as much a danger. and lots of people and places look like they are doing well – only their bank knows for sure. most businesses are not doing well at the moment. if one winery is for the moment – very lucky for them.

          • You know better than that. Alcohol and driving do not mix. There are plenty of ways to make money in this down time. The entire world is down but the wineries are open. We don’t need more! Enough is enough!

            • you are great at aphorisms. the whole world is NOT down. should people with millions invested in a business sell pencils or newspapers in downtown? facts? how many more children have died crossing busy roads on the OMP than in town? are there no winery tour buses to keep people from driving? no designated drivers? no old people whose reaction times are slower than drinkers? your wineries serve at most 5/8 oz portions and a limited number of them. they are required by law not to serve a person who is a danger to others. facts is what you want not cute sayings.

  6. I am all for improving the venues for farmers to market their products and promote agri-tourism opportunities but I feel that the recent WOMP lawsuit against the township zoning is something else entirely. It is a wholesale conversion of Winery allowances currently setup to promote local viticulture into multiple micro commercial districts that sidestep zoning restrictions favored by most residents.

    The current generation of winery owners seem to want to compete with local farmers by bringing in more outside sources of grapes and lowering acreage requirements for their expanded business plans.

    If you read the details of their demands: more rental rooms, restaurants, distilleries, and retail…the equivalent of Winery strip malls may be the end result. Also, they will compete with other legacy businesses -particularly restaurants, fruit stands, a brew pub, and b & b’s already present in the area. That’s in addition to more potentially inebriated traffic, trespassing, and violations of noise ordinances.

    The current Winery ordinances are essentially previously agreed upon extra allowed commercial uses in agricultural zones generously provided by the township to make another agricultural option available . At the time, the founders of these successful businesses were grateful for the opportunities allowed. Now it seems their descendants want another generous bite of the apple.

    I think local zoning under the elected township guidance can provide resident supported changes to help maintain generations of agriculture and tourism that promote farming AND the wineries without the conversion of the peninsula into a series of fancy strip-malls and large event venues.

    Rather than forcing an expensive federal lawsuit, WOMP should continue the debate locally and let their neighbors and elected officials participate.

    • Yes, Yes, i love to visit France with its entirely different approach to wineries and businesses. but, this is America. competing with other area businesses is what we do. and growing your business is part of our version of capitalism. we are different here. but, no one is going to make a strip mall on OMP anymore than they’ve made one in Napa. by cancelling the impressions given by the lovely vineyard views, they would effectively kill the goose etc. of course many locals want to keep things as they are and maybe even as they were. but that horse ran away long ago.


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