Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery | Jane Boursaw Photo
Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery | Jane Boursaw Photo
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(Editor’s Note: David Taft is part of a group of Old Mission Peninsula residents working to bring the various parties together to find a resolution to the ongoing winery lawsuit. Read his note below, addressed to the Peninsula Township Board, Protect the Peninsula, and the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula (WOMP). -jb)

We the People – a citizens’ group of many OMP residents — not representing the parties to the ongoing federal litigation, Peninsula Township, Protect the Peninsula or Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula — are trying to bring the parties together to reach some form of compromise to “the lawsuit.”

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We have made contact with the parties involved and have received disturbing answers. For example, the Township cannot respond, as it would potentially lead to an inadvertent violation of the confidentiality requirement of the earlier mediation between WOMP/Wineries and the Township.

The WOMP leadership indicated little interest, instead awaiting the outcome of the court trial. Yet, the U.S. District Court has issued a second Amended Case Management Order noting an Early Settlement Conference in late August 2023, and a second Settlement Conference in March 2024.

We the People, many residents of this township, are exasperated with the excessive legal costs of this lawsuit, money that could be better spent on Parks and Recreation, a third boat launch, more police coverage, and other causes that benefit the future of OMP.

The wineries, in receiving Special Use Permits over the years from this Township, have established successful commercial wineries, including tasting and retail facilities on agriculturally-zoned land. The wineries want to expand their operation, which has led to the lawsuit.

This lawsuit could potentially force our community into bankruptcy and create a high level of animosity toward the Township and toward WOMP and the wineries.

After our contacts with the Township and WOMP, we feel extreme frustration, as we do not see any willingness for discussion and compromise among the parties involved in this lawsuit, thereby pushing any settlement aside and leading to a Court resolution sometime in the future — already delayed twice.

We want the parties to come together and consider compromise on this lawsuit. We are available to act as facilitators to bring the parties together for discussion.

We have some innovative and fresh ideas on many areas of interest to all involved parties, including…

  • Hours of operation
  • Amplified music
  • Food service
  • Expanded events

Also, we have many ideas to help the wineries in other areas of this dispute. If we can catalyze a start towards compromise, we will also commit, as residents working with the Township, to help resolve these issues with amendments to the 201 Zoning Ordinance Amendment — once compromise is reached.

We reach out to you to try and bring the Trustees of Peninsula Township and the WOMP/Wineries together for serious discussions on compromise and ultimate resolution of this lawsuit.

How can we help make this happen?

We need to bring peace and harmony back to this community.

We ask for your responses to this request by August 2, 2023.

– David D. Taft

Also Read…

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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13 COMMENTS

  1. We are OMP residents and we feel the wineries are taking terrible advantage of the generous ordinances given (that you all agreed to and profited highly from) of our beautiful agricultural land. By turning this special peninsula into a selfish commercial enterprise. Building too many homes per 5 acres, etc. Offering events that already have exceedingly loud music and is awful for many neighbors. What about our rights to QUIET ENJOYMENT of our longtime homes?
    Really? How dare you. Take your business elsewhere, we are not buying any longer. This is residential and AG land that needs to remain so and be protected forever from businesses seeking to destroy it.

  2. I love it when people who are not invested in agriculture decry it when an agriculture business wants to expand its business. Should we tell the farmers who have lost their tart cherry market sorry you can’t expand your sweet cherry business and open a pick your own business with side businesses like selling jams, dried cherries doughnuts, pies etc in your words how dare you! don’t you know we bought our mcmansions and don’t want you to do anything we don’t like. The agriculture business is a commercial business as well. Do you think the cherry farmers who sell their cherries to the processors are not commercial operations. Where do you get this statement from? “building too many homes per 5 acres”. Not sure who that is aimed at,certainly not the wineries and in any event are all the very disappointed OMP residents on 5 acre plots or is it another case of I have mine on former farm land but no one else can. Life changes and we have to adjust accordingly. The peninsula is not what it was 20 years ago and will constantly evolve.

  3. I love farms! I don’t care if they have roadside stands and sell pies, jam etc. I do however object to more traffic being force fed to us if the wineries are allowed to have weddings and other events! We only have 2 main arteries on OMP and the amt of traffic on them is high already. Let’s keep what we’ve got! I’ve lived on the peninsula for almost 36 years, it’s beautiful, let’s KEEP it that way not make it worse!

  4. David
    I read your article and totally agree with you and your approach.
    I also would like to join your group to help remedy this issue.
    Dennis Remer

  5. BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE

    Over the last 25 days of July, I have spent 9 hours a day observing the traffic on Center Rd and conversed with people that have visited our cherry stand. I doubt any of the people who are complaining about the traffic have had the opportunity or taken the time to do this. What have I observed? There is quite a bit of traffic during non winery hours. There is a stream of service vehicles, cable trucks, appliance trucks, roofers, repair trucks and a large amount of landscaping vehicles. There are also quite a few boats being trailered to the boat launches. Many of the cars have a single person. I doubt these cars are headed to the wineries! My guess is they are Peninsula residents commuting to work or heading to or from town. After talking with our customers, I’ve found that many were heading to or from the lighthouse or the beach. Anyone who has been in town has noticed how awful the traffic is in town and outside of town. Articles in national publications, about the beauty of our area and beaches, has caused this spike in traffic over the years. M37 is a scenic drive ljust like Pierce Stocking Drive. Every tourist wants to drive to the end of the peninsula to see the light house. If residents are really serious about decreasing the traffic, they should abandon harassing the wineries and focus on the main culprit, the lighthouse! The township could close the lighthouse and then there would be less of a reason to head out the peninsula. How many residents make the trip to see the lighthouse anyway? My guess is not many. This would be an easy solution to address the problem and appease those of you nimbys (not in my back yard) who just don’t want any traffic at any cost.

  6. Debbie’s comments are spot on. Our traffic is not the wineries. So like today coming off the peninsula at 1030 AM and traffic congestion. Not the wineries. Regards, Curt Peterson

  7. Debbie and Curt, I think you’ve proved my point. We already have a ton of traffic on OMP, why add more especially later in the day and evening? And as to the lighthouse, residents do go there, I make a trip up there at least twice a year! Regards, NShotwell

  8. just FYI
    The legal fees keep mounting for the township. Already about 1 million big ones! The July legal bills for the winery lawsuits are listed in the August packet for the township meeting on August 8,2023 as $18,000. That doesn’t include other legal costs for other matters.

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