Jimi Hendrix lights his guitar on fire at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967
Jimi Hendrix lights his guitar on fire at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967
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(Editor’s Note: John Jacobs likens land use values on the Old Mission Peninsula to Jimi Hendrix lighting his Fender Stratocaster on fire at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. Read on. 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]. Note that you may only submit opinion pieces once every 30 days. -jb)

Jimi Hendrix used feedback to get louder and more piercing sounds to fill event centers with deafening noise until, eventually, he just put his guitar down and it screamed on without him.

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Feedback is caused by outputs cycled back into inputs. Feedback propagates itself, becoming bigger and bigger. Feedback can occur in anything that has an input and an output, even in land use.

Land uses determine land values. Land in Manhattan, because it can be used for valuable office buildings, commands a higher price than farmland in Alabama. The flip side of this is that land values determine land use. No one buys land in Manhattan to grow corn. The income from corn could never justify the land price. That’s the land use feedback loop; land use drives land value which drives land use … and so on.

Allowing high income activities such as event centers and restaurants on land zoned for agriculture drives up the price of the farmland until it becomes unaffordable for farming. Any potential use that values the land higher than farming will eventually drive farming off the land. Farmers can only pay a price afforded by farm income.

Just as Jimi’s guitar got louder and louder, creating a screeching cacophony of sound, agricultural land occupied by event centers and restaurants will get more and more expensive, driving away farming and bringing in more event centers and restaurants along with the activity, noise and traffic they depend upon to thrive.

This dynamic has always driven land use planning in this community. And, it is why the Township Board must not make the decision the wineries’ want them to make: Will we have a future of more and more event centers, bars, and restaurants, or will farming continue on Old Mission Peninsula?

Winery tasting rooms are a valued part of our community and an important use on our agricultural land because they are tied to farming.

Our current planning and zoning wisely allow for tasting rooms so wineries can sell products tied to Old Mission Peninsula agriculture directly to customers for enhanced profitability. But, equally wisely, it does not allow private centers for wedding receptions and other events, or restaurants and bars because they are not tied to agriculture – even when they are located on a farm.

Allowing tasting rooms enables farmers to profit from wine they make from grapes they grow. Allowing tasting rooms to become venues for rent and restaurants and bars would render farming superfluous on these parcels. In that scenario, profits come from land use that is not farming, driving up land values, forcing farming to fade away.

Defending against the lawsuit brought by the wineries is critical to the future of land use on the OMP, and critical to avoiding a future of many, many more businesses that depend on generating significant amounts of traffic to succeed.

The wineries’ quest to gain financial damages from township citizens through their lawsuit is not the damage that worries me the most; instead, it’s the irreversible damage to the future of farming, the damage to the future character of the peninsula, and the damage to the safe, peaceful future of the community.

After Jimi Hendrix drove his instrument to the apex of feedback, he threw it to the stage floor where it continued to scream wildly, and he finally lit it on fire.

Let’s not let this land use feedback loop drive our peninsula to such an apex of event center and restaurant activity that it seems it’s on fire.

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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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8 COMMENTS

  1. John, You have it half right. Farmland has become too expensive for the traditional farming that has taken place on the Peninsula. However, it is not because of the wineries although they do help keep Ag land values up because they offer an alternative for cherry and apple farmers. The real culprit for the increased value of farmland is the expensive housing that has exploded on the Peninsula over the past thirty years.

    Unless farmers and by extension wineries are allowed to add value to their business you will see more and more 5 acre mini-estates instead of farms. I own a 90 acre farm with cherries, grapes, and chestnuts. It is no longer profitable to farm that land in the traditional way. If I or whoever buys my farm is not allowed to take advantage of agrotourism which means value added in one way or another, I will either develop the land into 5 acre parcels or sell it to a developer who will do it.

    Wineries have at least 40 acres of farmland. Almost all of their wine is sold through the winery to visitors. In order to make a decent living they need to be able to maximize the use of their facility. The more profitable they are the more beautiful their operation will be. Italy has done a great job with Agrotourismo. They have small restaurants which serve locally grown food and they have small bed and breakfasts which allow tourists to enjoy the ambiance of the farm.

    If you want to continue to enjoy the open spaces that farms provide you need to recognize the changes that have taken place in farming. Otherwise you will end up with a twenty mile long housing development.

    • Marc, Please consider the Purchase of Development Rights Program before developing your farmland into a subdivision or selling it to a developer. It may provide a viable exit plan for you.

  2. I sit here and observe all sides of your polarized community as these lawsuits and negotiations play out. I feel bad chiming in because I don’t live there, nor call it home like you all do. I’m that visitor who comes and spends my hard-earned money. Community Pride is an awesome attribute…however, just like raising kids, there is a balance of setting firm rules but not wanting to stifle our children’s growth. Same for trying to steer our community’s future. Where we want to believe we can set the “proper” future for generations to come, I think that we should prepare the future to assure success for ALL people, and not one sector. The healthiest communities have a “live and let live” approach and one that doesn’t rely heavily on people who individually get their way. Jimi Hendrix promoted peace and understood the unifying aspect of music. He changed the scenery with his progressive ways. From afar, your community has been the fire set on the guitar and appears nothing like sweet music. “Lately things, they don’t seem the same”…..I’m sorry so many of you there have had to live in fear of losing your identity. That applies to both sides. Your balance of wisdom, business sense, and common sense will prevail to create whatever short-term rules the process ends up with. Long after we are gone, our children and grandchildren will make up their own rules in their own time and in their own places. We need to show them by our example how to be tolerant, respectful, and humbled by the human condition.

  3. John

    Marc has pointed out the obvious situation with regard to land value and highest use etc here on the peninsula.
    But there is more that I find objectionable to your argument.
    You seem to say that the wineries and by extension the farmers on the peninsula can only engage in money making activities that are directly related to their agricultural crops.
    In other words you grow grapes you can only sell wine or grape juice.
    So in your view for example, a farmer could not hold a wedding in a barn on their property. Or if they grow apples they could not have a hay ride. No farmer could have paying guests on their farm.
    What about farm tours? What about fishing in my pond? I can go on and on. The point is that farmers and wineries that also are farms need to find sources of additional income to keep their businesses vibrant. This in turn keeps the land in agriculture. There is no call to shut down a winery and turn it into a Las Vegas chapel, for example. What they and the other farmers on the peninsula want is ways to add to their income generation ability.
    You might be surprised to learn that next month there will be a state sponsored agritourism meeting here in Traverse City. Several local businesses in Leelanau will serve as good examples as starting off points for the discussion.
    It is interesting that the officials in Leelanau county recognize the fact that agriculture needs innovation just like any other business.
    PTP I am sure will be gnashing their teeth when places like the Farm Club and Leelaneau cheese are touted.
    You won’t hear any group like PTP calling for the boycott of those businesses, nor will state officials be featuring speakers from PTP or so called Friends of the Peninsula to tell everyone to go home!
    What you will see are many peninsula farmers and yes winery reps there to learn about the future and not some Luddite view about closing off the peninsula to new ideas.

  4. Protect the Peninsula keeps harping on numerous misguided points. They try to convince us that farming is not a commercial activity and use the verbiage that farming is only agriculture. Sorry farming is big business and getting more technical by the day. If we want farming to continue on OMP we need to listen to our ag experts (not PTP). And we need to embrace proper well thought out changes in zoning incentives. Sticking to what worked in the last century is a recipe for failure. And if our farms, wineries, and agricultural commercial businesses can’t make a reasonable profit then they will sell their land to real estate developers. More 81 (Peninsula Shores now) developments will unfortunately be our future. Stop listening to the flawed PTP opinions. Regards, Curt Peterson

  5. Residents of Peninsula Township,

    Mediation and constructive resident input is what groups like PTP and FOMP want while the Wineries of OMP (WOMP) want to bypass zoning ordinances and force greater noise, traffic, accommodations, restaurants, event centers and up to $200 million in damages on their neighbors. Having a voice in these decisions and creating ordinances that are consensus driven is what zoning is all about. We residents of Peninsula Township just want to have our voices heard. We all need to speak up. Attend township meetings, get a yard sign, read the many Gazette articles about this topic, and yes consider pausing your purchases of WOMP products until they listen to your concerns. We want the Winery owners to look us in the eye, sit in the same room, and mediate the concerns of all residents and farmers in the community. I can only hope that there exist winery owners who will stop funding this punitive end run around their neighbors and consider our collective concerns.

    Support mediation-not litigation,

    Todd Wilson (friendsofoldmissionpeninsula.org)

  6. Everyone seems to forget the township and ptp and now the so called friends group have rejected compromise which is what brought us to where we are today.
    One only has to harken back to the St Mary’s church meeting when the town rejected a compromise that had been worked out. From reading the latest minutes that came out of the meeting last week it is clear PTP and the town do not want to compromise. I quote from the minutes:

    Grant Parsons
    “I fear WOMP will put bling on the table, but in turn for the bling, you have to give them our ordinance. Give them money, but keep the ordinance. ”
    And Further
    Mike Dettmer
    The money WOMP demands is bullshit. It’s a ploy to get you to trade the
    money for their ordinance. Their ordinance is bullshit too.
    So Just what is PTP advocating? Don’t compromise! they say. Given the track record of the township and their puppet masters PTP and now the so called Friends you need look no farther than their own words to see why the wineries have gone to court. The town and PTP have no intention and never had any intention on compromising.
    I know hundreds of people who think the town is wasting our money over trivial issues and PTP somehow has a stranglehold on the town officials. That is how I see it and the sooner the township officials break loose from these non compromisers the better we will all be.

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