Chateau Grand Traverse, aka Winery Hill, on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
Chateau Grand Traverse, aka Winery Hill, on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
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Earlier this month on April 5, Judge Paul Maloney of the United States District Court, Western District of Michigan, Southern Division issued an “Opinion and Order Resolving Motions for Summary Judgment” in the ongoing winery lawsuit in which the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula (WOMP), Plaintiffs, are suing Peninsula Township, Defendent. Protect the Peninsula is also involved as an Intervenor-Defendent.

In short, this means that Judge Maloney delivered rulings on several motions; however, not everything has been resolved. A trial is still set to begin on April 29 in Kalamazoo.

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Here are just a few of the rulings covered in Maloney’s April 5 Opinion:

1. Weddings are not “protected speech.” Maloney rejected the Wineries’ argument that hosting weddings and other events constitutes “agritourism,” which they believe is “advertising” and “protected speech.”

2. No damages. Maloney rejected the Wineries’ claim for damages as a result of not being allowed to operate restaurants, offer catering, have amplified music and late hours. Read more about this in Maloney’s recent ruling here.

3. Each winery is different. Maloney rejected the Wineries’ argument that they should all be treated the same. He noted that each winery must prove its individual claim based on the facts, the law, and each of their zoning provisions. He agreed with Protect the Peninsula’s claim that Black Star Farms, Two Lads Winery, Peninsula Cellars and Tabone Vineyards did not prove that “Winery Chateau” parts of the zoning ordinance were unconstitutionally applied to them.

4. The Township’s interest in agricultural preservation is substantial. Maloney rejected the Wineries’ argument that Peninsula Township’s interest in agricultural preservation is not substantial. He writes: “This factor falls in favor of the Township and PTP; preserving agriculture and regulating for the general health and safety of citizens are substantial government interests.”

5. Restraint of Speech. Maloney agreed with the wineries’ argument that requiring Winery Chateaus to get Township approval for “meetings of agricultural related groups” is a prior restraint of speech.

6. Merch limitations. Maloney issued a mixed ruling on the wineries’ argument that zoning limits on what merchandise wineries can sell and advertise are unconstitutional. He writes: “Here, the Township and PTP must show how these regulations preserve agriculture and protect the general welfare.” This issue will be covered in the upcoming trial.

Read the full Opinion and Order issued on April 5 here. Also, Protect the Peninsula’s website has a full list of all court documents involving the winery lawsuit here.

Read all winery lawsuit news and opinions published on Old Mission Gazette here.

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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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