Bonobo Winery on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
Bonobo Winery on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
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Here’s a brief rundown of a few things happening out of the Peninsula Township offices lately.

Bonobo Winery Special Use Permit #118

Bonobo Winery, the 50-acre Winery Chateau located at 12011 Center Road, is proposing to build two covered storage and work areas at the southwest corner of the existing facility near the lower-level processing area. More specifically:

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  • 20′ x 20′ roof-covered work area attached to the existing building adjacent to the lower level wine processing entrance area on the south end of the building.
  • 40′ x 60′ covered storage and work area on a concrete slab located just west of the existing building adjacent to the lower-level wine processing entrance area. This structure would be built into the existing slope, with additional enclosed storage under the west end of the structure.
  • 16′ x 24′ pergola located in the lawn west of the existing tasting room patio. This is an existing structure that was not sanctioned by the Township. Bonobo was fined $400.

Main discussion points at the Planning Commission meeting on April 19, 2021 – which included a public hearing – involved the impact on the views, and also whether the proposed structures would be available for guests, tours, etc.

Owner Todd Oosterhouse noted that the 40′ x 60′ covered work area would be used to protect bins of grapes from the elements, which can damage the grapes’ texture and chemistry. When asked, he said he would not be agreeable to limiting that space from guests and tours. He noted that because of Covid-19 restrictions and limited capacity inside the winery, there’s a possibility that guests may gather in that covered area.

As to whether the building could be moved to the north, Dave Edmondson noted during the public hearing that this parcel falls under PDR (Purchase of Development Rights) which has a no-building clause.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously to table the special use permit and establish a committee to examine the issue and meet with Oosterhouse on how best to move forward. For more info and to view site plans, see the Planning Commission April 19, 2021 meeting packet here.

Bella Vue Development/Special Use Permit #137

This proposed planned unit development, located on the east side of Center Road about a quarter-mile north of the Bluff Road intersection, includes five residential building lots with access from a private road. The proposed private road would connect to Center Road and terminate in a cul-de-sac.

At their meeting on Jan. 12, the Township Board voted unanimously to allow this project 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. The Board also requested 3D modeling as part of the site plan, and it went back to the Planning Commission for review at their April 19, 2021 meeting.

Developer Dan Leonard noted that while they are still working through a few details, he said the two open space areas and the steep slope to Bluff Road would be protected with a restriction to the master deed which could not be amended by future home owners associations.

Discussion points included permitted uses in the open space areas, specific stabilization language that protects the integrity of the slope, setback dimensions (which should be added to the site plan), location of a silt fence and more.

Bill Smethells, who owns a home on Bluff Road directly under the proposed development and shares a 200-foot property line, said he would like to see specific setbacks for the homes on the ridge. “If someone adds a deck, the distance and setbacks are an issue with us,” he noted.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously to establish a committee to work out specific details with the developers and bring it back to the commission for review. For more info and to see site plans, view the meeting packet here.

Non-Motorized Trails on the Old Mission Peninsula

While still in the discussion stage, this project gained traction after many OMP residents expressed approval for the trails in the 2019 Township Survey. Other community trail groups such as Norte, TART and the Cherry Capital Cycling Club, have said they will not get involved unless specifically asked by the Township.

At their April 19, 2021 meeting, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend to the Township Board to invite these organizations to explore options for a non-motorized trail system in Peninsula Township.

One sticking point is that trails cannot be built through orchards or farmland due to the strict regulations under Michigan’s GAAMP (Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices) and Right-to-Farm rules.

Kelley Park DNR Lease and Boat Launch

At their meeting on April 13, 2021, the Township Board voted unanimously to approve signing the lease with the Michigan DNR for Kelley Park. What this means is that while the park, located on Mission Road across from Old Mission Inn, is owned by the DNR, it will be maintained and controlled locally by Peninsula Township.

Township Supervisor Rob Manigold noted that the Township already leases the Old Mission State Park (514 acres) and Lighthouse Park (137 acres) from the DNR. “We do the operation and we have a great relationship with [the DNR],” he said.

Signing the lease also allows the Township to move forward with a boat launch at Kelley Park, the culmination of many meetings, public hearings and discussions in recent years. The Haserot Beach boat launch washed away in a storm in 2019 and has not been rebuilt there, partly because of restrictions from the Hyslop family, which owns part of the beach, and partly because of the many swimmers who use Haserot Beach.

“Go down there on any hot day and look at all the people on the beach,” said Manigold. “We didn’t advertise it as one of the top ten beaches in the area, but it’s heavily used. So Kelley Park seems to be the logical choice.”

View the Kelley Park DNR Lease here. Note that the name will be changed from Old Mooring Place (the previous name) to Kelley Park.

Jolly Pumpkin Class C Liquor License

At their April 13, 2021 meeting, the Township Board voted unanimously to approve a Class C Liquor License for Old Mission Brewpub, LLC (Jolly Pumpkin).

Owner Jon Carlson was at the meeting and explained that they are converting from a small microbrewery and distillery to a Class C liquor license. “We’d like to drop the other licenses, move the distillery out, and still operate as a brew pub and Class C, which is what it was before,” he said.

New Parks Committee Member

At the April 13, 2021 meeting of the Township Board, Clerk Becky Chown welcomed Michele Zebell to the Parks Committee.

Zebell takes over for Eric Dreier, who recently resigned from the Parks Committee.

New Ambulance Approved

At their April 13, 2021 meeting, the Township Board voted unanimously to approve a bid and financing for a new ambulance for the Peninsula Township Fire Department.

The bid is one of three reviewed by Fire Chief Fred Gilstorff, who said it meets all the bid specifications, including delivery time, design, financing options and more. The new ambulance is also 4WD, replacing an older non-4WD ambulance.

The bid from Emergency Vehicles Plus is for a 2021 Chassis at a cost of $258,181 and financing with Tax Exempt Leasing Corp. for seven years at a rate of 2.39 percent. For more info, see the meeting packet here.

Township Suspends Enforcement of Zoning Ordinance for Awnings, Roof-Only Tents & More

Due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions and limited capacities, Peninsula Township voted to suspend enforcement of the Zoning Ordinance with regard to:

  • Roof-only tents and pop-up tents
  • Sun sails
  • Umbrellas
  • Awnings (free standing and/or attached)

This applies to all commercial business entities, including wineries, farms, farm stands, stores, churches, restaurants and other related entities. It will expire on Sept. 6, 2021, at which time the Township will review the suspension and decide whether to continue it into the fall months.

For more info regarding the specifics, see Resolution 2021-04-13 #1 here. Note that a few changes were made to this document; for the updated document, contact Peninsula Township’s Zoning Director Christina Deeren, [email protected].

Also Read…

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. I hope that the GAMP rules could be examined to explore the possibility of cycling and hiking trails through farmland and vineyards. That could be win win for all.

    Regards, Curt Peterson

    • Thanks for the note, Curt. We’ll see what happens. With all the farming rules and regulations, there’s only a handful of people (farmers and workers) who are even allowed in the orchard these days – and they’re supposed to sign in and sign out.

      Also, OMP farmers started spraying last week, and they’ll spray continuously from now into the fall. So all in all, there’s no good way for trail-goers and farmers to co-exist on ag land.

      • Thank you Jane! By explaining how co existing with farmers and hikers from a trail would not work well , it truly helps us to understand. Thank you.


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