Old Mission Peninsula Aerial | copyright Jane Boursaw, Old Mission Gazette (do not use without permission)
Old Mission Peninsula Aerial | copyright Jane Boursaw, Old Mission Gazette (do not use without permission)

(Longtime Old Mission Peninsula resident Brit Eaton has a few thoughts about the unique balance between the Peninsula’s rural and agricultural heritage, and how our new township planner can help us move forward. Read on… -jb)

I write this as a private citizen and not as a representative of the Citizens Agricultural Advisory Committee (CAAC); the Township appointed me after the tumultuous meeting at St Joseph’s church in October 2021, where 250+ residents attended to voice opposition to the divisive federal lawsuit against the Township by 11 wineries on the Peninsula.

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As we started, I was skeptical of the approach of focusing on rewriting the Agricultural Zoning Ordinances as a means to correct systemic, outdated application of zoning code.

At about the same time, 19 agricultural producers on the Peninsula requested parity of the special uses the wineries were being given since they were also agricultural producers. Thus, the CAAC began to address those issues, as well.

After a meeting with one of the farming representatives, I tried to wrap my head around the impact of an unknown number of additional visitor-serving sites on the Peninsula, bringing more traffic. The thought of more visitor-serving sites with the effects of the extra traffic greatly concerned fellow citizens and me. To visualize that impact, I developed a map with dots representing current visitor-serving sites and black dots representing proposed new sites (see below).

With the increasing popularity of the Peninsula and its unique balance between rural and agricultural heritage, we can only hope to maintain that balance by having well-planned and managed expansion ordinances to avoid losing that uniqueness.

A ray of hope and unity comes from the hiring of Jennifer Cram as our Township Planner. She has come out of the need to formulate new zoning ordinances that are equitable, fair, and professionally developed, and that provide parity to all agricultural operators and citizens alike.

After a very successful career in Larimer County, Colorado, doing similar agricultural zoning planning, Jen brings expert professional guidance, a tireless work ethic, tremendous listening skills, outstanding organizational abilities, honesty and strong leadership traits. An overwhelming number of the members of the CAAC and others who’ve had the opportunity to work with her respect Jen’s sincerity, vision and honesty.

To counter the divisive impact of the winery lawsuit on the Peninsula and bring parity to the agricultural community while respecting the citizenry’s concerns, it will require the careful crafting of a new agricultural zoning ordinance. It will require compromise, clarity of purpose, well-defined expectations, and enforceable rules understood by all interested parties. Jen deserves our trust and support to make that happen.

If you agree, please take the time to let Jen know that you support her efforts to maintain and guide the Township’s Planning direction.

(See Jen’s office hours and contact info on the Township website here. -jb)

– Brit Eaton

Brit Eaton/Peninsula Township map with visitor-serving entities in the community | Eaton Image
Brit Eaton/Peninsula Township map with visitor-serving entities | Eaton Image

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you Brit. Very well put. If we do not support the thoughtful and engaged effort to rewrite our agricultural zoning ordinances, we will be doomed to live with what we have, which clearly is not working for the majority of our stakeholders, whether they be residential or agricultural. Thank you again, and I support everything you have said about Jen Cram. I think we are very lucky to have her join us just when we need her insights and professionalism.

    I, like you, hope our citizens take a moment to express their support of the efforts to improve our agricultural ordinances, it is evident our valued farmers need this rewrite to give them more flexibility and a better chance of success.

  2. My wife and I are in our late 60’s now and have enjoyed the OMP for many years as visitors. Thank you all for being such gracious hosts. We too have seen the progression of increased traffic, long lines, and many times it didn’t seem like a get-away, but an extension of the rat-race we left behind before visiting. At other times, your open arms helped heal our busy lives. Visitors want to have fun. Farmers deserve the land, money, and a very rural lifestyle. The vineyards and their hard working employees deserve respect as well. I’ve been reading all the threads here over time, and wondered how they handled such transitions with such grace in and around Portland, Napa, and areas of Washington. We are all on a multipurpose trail system. Mr. Eaton is a peace keeper and I only met him in the article above. That is one of the most honorable traits known to humans. We can all learn from his wisdom, even us in Indiana…lol. I know a thing or two about wisdom, craftiness, emotion, and forethought. I hope for the preservation of us all that the deep divisions end up with handshakes and a respectable look in the eyes of those we oppose. I want your homeland to be a peaceful place for my grandchildren. Best wishes to all.

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