(Editor’s Note: OMP resident Cindy Warner says it’s time to “take back the Peninsula.” Read on for more. And if you’ve got something to say about anything related to the Old Mission Peninsula, write it up and send it to me, [email protected]. -jb)
After spending Thanksgiving embroiled over what I received from Protect The Peninsula in my mailbox, I have come to the conclusion that it is time for us to form a group that is called “Take Back the Peninsula.”
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The scare tactic of the purported assessment that they envision we’ll all receive from the ill-fated winery lawsuit that they — Protect the Peninsula — have protracted out by at least a year by enjoining this suit, is deplorable. At the notion of an assessment, which would be for not one ounce of improvement to Old Mission Peninsula residents, I was furious. (Editor’s Note: Click the image below to enlarge it. -jb)
Can you imagine any place in America where residents have to pay an assessment because some heavy-handed township officials have decided they simply do not agree with logical business operations for wineries, thereby creating a $100-million-plus settlement against our township, simply because they would not work with these businesses and come to a logical conclusion?
As a resident of the Old Mission Peninsula for 23 years, I could not be more disgusted at the current state of affairs with our township. We are embroiled in a battle over the logical and normal business operations for wineries that would enable them to finally yield a profit on their huge investments — investments that have brought prominence and prosperity to our region and our state.
Not a single winery that I know of wants to be a bar, a restaurant, a noisy neighbor, or remain open until 2 a.m.
And yes, there was an agreed upon settlement between the township and the wineries well over a year ago, that the now ill-fated meeting at St. Joseph Catholic Church in October of 2021 undid, thanks to noisy neighbors. The settlement was logical and workable for all involved, but the noisy neighbors who want to close the door at the base of the OMP pressured the township to retract their agreement on this settlement.
It is disgusting that we cannot even trust the character and integrity of township officials who are paid with our tax dollars. These wineries simply want the right to continue to invest in their operations to make a profit, not be a hobby business.
I have watched as the likes of Brys Estate sprung out of a dilapidated farmhouse on Blue Water Road to its now 155 contiguous acres, producing award winning wines, with an experience that people coming to our area rave about, including a Secret Garden that farms the land for lavender, etc., all to be told that expanding a deck that would bring more prosperity to our region is not permitted by the township’s ordinance. Or that having a jazz quartet at sunset would somehow disturb the “character” of the Peninsula.
And shall I mention that the 155 acres owned by this winery has not taken ONE DIME of our PDR (Purchase of Development Rights) money to preserve this land. They did it the old fashioned way, with their hard earned money that they brought to the OMP. They have continued to reinvest in our Peninsula, all to be further restricted in their growth even moreso than the day they embarked on their family business endeavor.
This is one such example of the investment and prosperity that the wineries have brought to our area, but certainly not the only one. Can you just imagine what would happen if the Brys Estate family simply had enough of the draconian tactics of this township and decided to throw in the towel on running a winery? Do any of you realize how many homes could be built on 155 acres of stunning view property on Blue Water Road?
Any thoughts on how that all worked out at Peninsula Shores (formerly The 81 on East Bay), where the group from PTP protected NOTHING? Have you driven over to see the subdivision that was not going to happen because our township and PTP spent years in court to protect us?
Well, guess what? There are multimillion dollar homes there, and that lovely development generates SIGNIFICANT tax revenue to our township, all from land that sat bare with little tax base for decades. Candidly, the tax dollars alone from Peninsula Shores have likely funded this ridiculous lawsuit.
Folks, there is this thing called land use rights in America! Just because a sixth generation family farmer, not elected but appointed by another sixth generation family farmer, thinks he and the township are somehow protecting our rights on the OMP, we should all think again. (Editor’s Note: Our previous township supervisor, Rob Manigold, is a fourth generation OMP farmer, and our current township supervisor, Isaiah Wunsch, was elected to the Township Board in 2016 and appointed as supervisor by the current Township Board following Rob’s resignation in 2022. -jb)
They are destroying our peninsula completely. They are driving a wedge between our citizens because they do not understand that the word “profit” is not a dirty word, that compromise is normal in business, and that farming the land with grapes is the same as farming the land with cherries and apples.
Now comes a township planner, with what appears to be clear direction to further restrict how we use our land, and we have yet more insanity coming from our township offices. I am done with this. Completely done.
While I felt years ago that simply selling my family home and moving was the best resolve, I no longer feel that is the right path. The right path is that we must Take Back Our Peninsula. We must remove these appointed, not elected officials, settle this lawsuit via compromise, and stop the bleeding.
And once and for all, tell Protect the Peninsula that they have protected us from nothing and no one, and that they may want to find a place to live in America where they restrict land use to that which they desire, not what is permitted by law. (Editor’s Note: See PTP’s website for more information on their history. -jb)
We are not going to be the butt of state and federal jokes for the unconstitutional attempts at restricting land use on the OMP. We live in the United States of America where land use cannot be determined by township officials who simply want a handful of family farmers to profit, namely from our PDR taxes that have ingratiated far too few on OMP, including the township supervisor’s family. (Editor’s Note: For more on the PDR program, click here, and to view the township’s zoning ordinance, click here. -jb)
It is time, folks. It is time to say no more. It is also time to stop antagonizing well meaning farmers of all kinds on the OMP, be it cherries, apples or grapes. We all know that stress has negative consequences, and I can only imagine how stressful farming must be, let alone being chased around by township officials for merely trying to create a prosperous business.
In fact, I can only imagine the stress that Walter Brys endured in being attacked for creating something so profoundly beautiful in his family business, so much so that it likely led to his untimely demise this summer. I am one of those that carried his casket and laid him to rest on none other than the OMP, where he proudly created a business that his entire family came home to run.
It is time, folks. It is time to remove the stress and insanity from all that is going on here on the OMP. It is time to learn how to compromise, learn to work together to ensure the success of these family businesses, and stop fighting. Who is ready to turn the page? Let’s get on with it.
-Cindy Warner, resident of the Old Mission Peninsula
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 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 OMP. Check out the donation page here. Thank you so much for your support. -jb