chateau chantal, grapes, vineyards
Chateau Chantal Grapes | Jane Boursaw Photo

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

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6 COMMENTS

  1. It is my understanding that the township suit is being underwritten by the insurance companies. And i am sure the winery lawsuit is going to cost the wineries more than $250,000.
    Be that as it may the crux of this lawsuit is that the wineries are operating under ordinances that were written years ago, some of which may need to be changed due to nee state laws or constitutional issues. You might say the wineries agreed to the rules.
    Does that mean they must remain static.
    Is this how life is in the real world. Of course not and as the magistrate pointed out you can’t keep saying this is how it was in the 1970s. You may never have heard of a contract of adhesion and that is where you have a take it or leave it situation. That is what some of the wineries faced.
    I for one want a vibrant community not a dead one filled with rich retired folks who do not want anything to change.
    I don’t know where you live but as you spend more time here you will find that anytime anyone wants to either build more housing or do something new and different with existing commercial property there is a hue and cry about things like traffic and other issues.
    Just think where your house sits and those of the many others. Most likely on previous farm land.
    So i am always amazed how people can complain about providing housing for others while sitting in their house. Now that I have mine put up that invisible gate and keep others out. That seems to be their mantra.
    As a final point i dont think name calling such as the wineries are greedy that i read in one comment is conducive to honest debate. Since when is trying to improve your business model a sign of greed. Does your boss call you greedy if you ask for a raise. I hope not.
    Welcome to the peninsula. Look around tell me where the young people are. Tell me where the diversity is out here. What do you tbink the average age is out here. My guess is it is probable in the 50s or 60s maybe even more.
    Look at the housing prices dont you think 5 acre minimums is an impediment to young people who would add some dynamism to the community and new ideas etc. I could go on and on but I’ll just add this note. I support the wineries as I do the two stores out here and the restaurants. They each contribute a lot to making life enjoyable out here for those of us who take advantage of all they have to offer. Stop by my farm Shangri-la Too farm Center rd across from the great library and lets chat some more.

  2. Let’s go to Lardie’s for penny candy. Haha. You can’t stop change but you can manage it. If you don’t embrace and work with change, it happens anyway and you end up unhappy with the results.

  3. I am a resident of OMP and have been learning more about this lawsuit; I fully admit I probably do not have all of the facts and I’m certainly willing to learn more. I assure you I do indeed have an open mind and fully embrace change, as I’m sure do most OMP residents. Using the “change is inevitable” argument is spurious and disrespects the people of this community. Change for change’s sake is a thin rationale for simply giving in to the wineries.

    The fact of the matter is, the wineries have valid reasons for wanting the changes but their reasons are no more valid than the people who are against such changes and to suggest that the residents are not open minded…or don’t want diversity…or hate change is erroneous and condescending. Everyone who enjoys living on OMP has the right to be heard.

  4. Of course everyone has a right to their opinion and obviously express it. All I can say is that many legitimate and by the book developments have resulted in lawsuits that the town has lost. Even resulting in property destruction of one of the developers property and rude defacement signs on his seawall and entry to the development by an individual who was actually cheered by s a few on some social media websites. I don’t think the purpose of that criminal action was showing they wanted change.
    There are many that do not want change and it is not condescending to point that out. Even you say those that do not want change have a right to be heard making my point. Take a look at the zoning ordinance and the planning documents. Do you see opportunities for multi family housing or low to middle cost housing. Five acre minimum lot size is not conducive to getting middle class and lower income people to buy out here. Why doesn’t our master plan etc classify certain areas for multi family housing.
    How about a few more commercial places. I heard awhile back that a young couple wanted to start a butcher place out here. I think it never got to second base. Maybe because there was no available commercial space or maybe because the township said no way.
    I of course am not saying all residents don’t want to accept change but there is a core group who do not want change. You may not like to hear it but it’s true.

  5. Great opinion piece, Mr. Randolph. It’s true the wineries are attacking their neighbors and not the other way around. It’s not that change is bad but commercialization of the township certainly is. And here we go again with that tired out argument of the “rich retired” are somehow in control. Thanks h please… How about we all calmly talk about it with respect and none of the name-calling and character assassination that is going on.

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