I want to thank Mr. Manigold for his considered response to Mr. Santucci’s recent opinion piece. It certainly clarified some points for me. I trust that, as an elected official, he is doing his best to meet the needs and desires of the majority of residents of Peninsula Township. And, knowing what a careful individual he is, I am sure he did not respond to Mr. Santucci’s opinion without careful assessment of the truth of the legal matter before the Township.
When I read Mr. Santucci’s latest opinion piece in the Gazette, I have to say, based on what I had previously understood, I was a little skeptical that not all the facts had been presented in an unbiased way. I applaud Mr. Santucci for voicing his opinions, as it is his perfect right to do so, and I must conclude he believes he has the best interests of the citizens of Old Mission Peninsula at heart.
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But I have to say, as a long time summer resident and recently a new citizen of Peninsula Township who has discussed this lawsuit with a number of my acquaintances, I really am not convinced the majority of Old Mission Peninsula residents agree with him that further commercialization of the wineries is in the best interests of the citizens of this community.
Yesterday, I went online and actually read the township ordinance regarding wineries. It is clear to me that the original intent of this ordinance was to encourage diversity of agricultural activity, not to spread commercial enterprises within this rural, residential setting. And, I have to believe that the wineries established under the ordinance, did so in accordance with this very intent. After all, they knew the rules, which were clearly stated, and to decide to invest in their winery enterprise, they had to be in agreement with them.
And I think, at first the wineries must have found it to be a satisfying endeavor. Why the situation is no longer satisfactory to the wineries is a question that only they can answer. But it now appears that the wineries will only be satisfied by turning their enterprises into commercial, rather than agricultural, entities. As I mentioned above, I am not convinced that the majority of citizens are in favor of increased commercialization on the Peninsula.
With regard to a previous letter written by Mr. Santucci on this manner, he lamented that the wineries were under attack by certain citizens of the community. This was, in my opinion, a rather odd characterization of the facts as I understand them. In effect, we have at least eleven wineries financing a lawsuit with perhaps less than legitimate claims that can only be established by a lengthy court battle.
To put this into perspective, if the lawsuit costs $250,000 in legal fees, each winery would only be obligated to spend less than $25,000 to finance the suit. As these are business enterprises, these costs will be written off as costs of doing business.
On the other hand, the Township will be on the hook to finance their whole share of the $250,000 defense. This must be done using taxpayer money that otherwise would be used to provide services in benefit of the citizens of the Peninsula Township.
So, in my opinion, it is not the citizens voicing opposition to the situation that are attacking the wineries, rather it is the wineries who are attacking the citizens of the Peninsula. You could say, this is a case of economic coercion designed to leverage the wineries demands for commercialization by forcing a settlement on their behalf, without due process.
In summary, thank you again, Mr. Manigold, for clarifying the situation from the Township’s standpoint. I find myself in total agreement with the Township’s stance on the matter. On a personal note, I will continue to make it a point to not purchase any products produced by the eleven wineries bringing suit and to encourage my friends and acquaintances to do likewise.
Thank you, Old Mission Gazette, for allowing me to express my opinion.
W. William Rudolph