Editor’s Note: The Peninsula Township Board is holding a special informational meeting on the winery lawsuit on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021, 7 p.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church. Click here for more details and to read the Amended Complaint filed by the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula (WOMP)…jb
When we bought our farm in the late 90s, the previous owner presumed it would be divided and developed. Thanks to a winery partnership, we went the agricultural route with the intent to keep it that way for decades.
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We further acquired another 15 acres that we have preserved in agriculture. We bought that land to qualify for the 40-acre minimum for a farm-based winery. Thanks to a successful winery to purchase the grapes, we have not had to build our own winery, even though we had the right. We can witness first-hand how the ordinance allowances for winery chateaus eliminate the need for redundant wineries or farm abandonment.
We also put our main Smokey Hollow farm on the PDR (Purchase of Development Rights) list more than a decade ago. In the last ten years or more, we have not even had a courtesy letter from the Township about the status of that application. This gives a strong message about the PDR system. Wineries kept our land and its premium views in agriculture – not PDR, not the Township.
The bottom line on our place is that we are at the age where decisions need to be made about the future of this land. As it stands, farming makes sense as long as, and only as long as, a healthy winery grape buyer exists. But the facts are:
1. We are taxed heavily on this land.
2. There is no evidence of any proactive moves by the Township to cooperate with us on land preservation.
3. We have made overtures to the [Grand Traverse Regional Land] Conservancy that remain to play out.
4. Our land connects to a successful and quality development that could be easily extended to our land.
5. The character of the Old Mission Peninsula, especially the Town Board, has changed from an agriculturally aware board to the equivalent of a township-wide HOA. This makes farming a riskier venture since we cannot count on support for the markets we need.
Town Board rejection of this settlement of issues with the wineries would be the strongest “call the developer” message we can imagine.
The divisive politics on this issue are sad. A significant but shrinking part of this Peninsula is still agricultural due to the wineries, not political action groups acting like subdivision HOAs.
Also, this campaign of misinformation such as referencing farmers wanting things like hospitality rights misses the mark. Those farmers could have a B & B anytime they want under the current ordinance. Anyone who thinks hospitality is a gold mine should go for it.
Also, who is to blame for the traffic? Mission Point Lighthouse is arguably the most significant single draw of traffic to the entire length of this Township. That attraction has been improved and marketed commercially by the Township. Not only is the Lighthouse a principal cause of traffic, but the Township is running a commercial tourist business selling stuff not sourced from the Peninsula.
When it comes to protecting the Peninsula, the wineries are very faithful to the cause. Wineries preserve land, save PDR dollars, make jobs for residents, and pay a ton of taxes.
– Jim and Fran Krupka