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This week, the long-awaited courtroom trial for the ongoing winery lawsuit begins in Kalamazoo. The trial is expected to last about three weeks, and members of Peninsula Township staff will be present at varying times throughout the trial.

The non-profit group “Friends of Old Mission Peninsula,” along with other OMP residents, gathered at the Township offices last week to bid the staff symbolic “good wishes” as they prepared to head downstate to participate in the trial.

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The Friends group was formed at the end of last year with a mission of informing, educating and sparking action against the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula (WOMP), a group of 11 wineries that sued Peninsula Township in Federal Court in 2020.

Read more about the Friends at their website here, and read all winery lawsuit news and opinions here.

Members of the non-profit "Friends of Old Mission Peninsula," along with other township residents, gathered to bid good wishes to township staff as they prepared to head to Kalamazoo for the winery lawsuit trial | Jane Boursaw Photo
Members of the non-profit “Friends of Old Mission Peninsula,” along with other township residents, gathered to bid good wishes to township staff as they prepared to head to Kalamazoo for the winery lawsuit trial | Kent and Nancy Walton Photo

Below is a video of the gathering at the Township offices, including a few remarks by “Friends” member Todd Wilson, on behalf of the group, thanking the Township for their time and effort regarding the trial. Peninsula Township staff also made a few remarks about the trial and their part in it.

Here is the text of the “Friends” message.

Thank You to the Peninsula Township Board and Staff

We are here today as friends to give you, the Township Board members and staff, a symbolic send-off as you travel to Kalamazoo for weeks of courtroom proceedings in the winery lawsuit. We chose to meet today, knowing that you may not leave for Kalamazoo together, and may not be able to attend the same days in court. We also imagine that being out of town for the proceedings will be disruptive to the regular business of the township, and that being away from your families and homes will unsettle your personal routines.

We recognize and appreciate your continued efforts to represent your constituents in these proceedings. Thank you for voicing the concerns of the vast majority of us who oppose unrestricted winery expansion, wanting to preserve farming and the townships’ rural agricultural character.

Additionally, we are grateful for your work to protect Peninsula Township from the winery’s demand for over $200 million in damages and a dramatic increase in the number of restaurants and event centers. We regret that you have had to spend so much time and treasure protecting our right to have a voice in creating zoning ordinances that affect us all.

Good luck in your efforts to preserve consensus-based local governance.

-Your Grateful Residents

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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