Judge Paul Maloney with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan has denied a Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by a group of wineries on the Old Mission Peninsula.
The goal of the injunction was to prohibit the Township from enforcing its zoning regulations as it relates to the wineries. Because the motion was denied, the zoning ordinance restrictions will stay put for now.
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In an email to Peninsula Township which was forwarded to Old Mission Gazette, Township Attorney Greg Miehn says the injunction was denied “based upon a lack of showing of irreparable harm and lack of showing likelihood of success on the merits at this stage of the litigation, among other arguments.”
“The result was a win for the Township and the residents of Peninsula Township,” notes Miehn.
According to the Order Denying Motion for Preliminary Injunction – which you can read in its entirety on Protect the Peninsula’s website here (more about this longtime OMP watchdog group forthcoming) – the judge must make a decision on whether to deny or allow the order based on four factors:
- Whether the moving party demonstrates a strong likelihood of success on the merits;
- Whether the moving party would suffer irreparable injury without the order;
- Whether the order would cause substantial harm to others; and
- Whether the public interest would be served by the order.
The wineries claim that numerous restrictions placed on them by the Peninsula Township zoning ordinance – including limitations on weddings, types of merchandise they can sell and guest events – cost the wineries thousands of dollars in lost revenue each year.
The wineries also argue that the lawsuit is not a zoning issue, but rather a constitutional issue which violates the First Amendment’s freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of religion, among others. Miehn responds:
“We disagree that it is not a zoning issue. Further, we believe that this is a contractual agreement between the Township and the wineries, whereby 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 the zoning ordinance.”
He adds, “While the Township is always willing to engage in settlement discussions, the Wineries, through their counsel, have refused. Accordingly, the Township is prepared to move this matter forward and expects to file a motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint once discovery is completed.”
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.
Sound off in the comments section below. Should the wineries be allowed fewer restrictions? Or should the current restrictions in the Township zoning ordinance be maintained?