Fall Colors on the Old Mission Peninsula
Fall Colors on the Old Mission Peninsula: Johnson Farms South in Mapleton | Jane Boursaw Photo
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(Editor’s Note: At tonight’s combined meeting of the Township Board and Planning Commission, two public hearings will be held on: 1) the zoning ordinance amendments related to farm processing, and 2) the zoning ordinance for the temporary moratorium. Potential Board action may occur on both items. The meeting will take place at the Township Hall at 7 p.m., and you can view the agenda and packets at the Township website here. Read on for Lou Santucci’s opinion piece, in which he says that another lawsuit on the moratorium might be coming soon. Got something to say? Write it up. Send it to me, [email protected]. -jb)

Township legal costs are heading towards $1,000,000, and for what?! This month’s legal bill was $95,000 for the winery lawsuit, and this is on top of previous bills from our new law firm of approximately $150,000. Along with whatever the previous lawyers’ charges were, we are talking serious money, Folks!

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Before this is over and before damages are assessed, the bill could easily reach $1,000,000.

There will most likely be another lawsuit on the Township’s illegal moratorium and the refusal of the Township planner to accept several special use permits (SUPs) that individuals have tried to submit. She claimed there was a moratorium in place. Albeit illegal, as recent proposed corrective action shows.

The Protect the Peninsula (PTP) folks said at a recent township meeting that they have the Township’s back. Do they have our pocketbooks, too?

This whole thing is bordering on the absurd. What are they fighting for anyway? The major complaint seems to be traffic, including traffic that will be caused by weddings and food service.

Here’s a suggestion. Instead of spending money on defending lawsuits that the Township will most likely lose, why not use that money to undertake an actual traffic study? In the end, I think you will see that there really is no major disruption of your life caused by traffic.

I live on Center Road and can attest that the traffic going from winery to winery is not bumper to bumper, nor is it every day or at all times of the day. Maybe at its peak, one winery will have 30 to 50 cars, and they sit there and then slowly peel off to go to another winery or back to town.

Let’s get realistic here. Who cares if a winery has a wedding at its facility? Who cares if they serve food in their facility? Only a few. And their cheerleading of the Township’s continued intransigence serves no purpose other than to bankrupt the Township.

One has to wonder – what was the compromise that the Township cavalierly rejected $250,000 ago…? Is our Township in the business of enriching downstate law firms rather than seeing that their fiduciary duty lies with OUR pocketbooks, not lining the law firms’ pocketbooks?

It’s time to compromise before we have empty coffers. And the canard that all the wineries had to do was come to the table – which they did numerous times – was proven wrong when the Township recently rejected a request from a potential winery to exempt them from the illegal moratorium.

At that point, the Township knew the moratorium was illegal, and instead of ordering the planner to accept his and other SUPs, they refused his request. This action borders on malfeasance of their sworn duty to uphold the laws of the state and township. Is this a sign of good government?

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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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