(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
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 like the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, and magazines like 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 of course, I started my own newspaper. Because the Gazette is mainly reader-supported, I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks my 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 Old Mission Peninsula. Check out the donation page here. Thank you so much for your support. -jb