Is PTP trying to get rid of the wineries?
No, not at all. Wineries are part of a healthy agricultural economy. However, what the wineries are demanding in their lawsuit – hours until 2:00am, outdoor amplified music, large events such as weddings and bachelorette parties, and full restaurant service – are not agriculture. These types of activities have always been prohibited by zoning, and the wineries knew these were the rules when they set up business in the township. The rules were carefully crafted to provide much needed guardrails on activities to avoid conflicts with other agricultural operators and to protect quality of life in this community. The lawsuit is an attempt to nullify ordinances to the detriment of residents, and in ways that will forever change the peninsula.
Is PTP involved in anything else besides the wineries’ lawsuit?
PTP’s current focus is definitely centered on defending against the wineries’ claims. But, this is just the latest in a very long line of PTP’s activities and projects. PTP also promotes good parks, supports the very successful PDR (purchase of development rights) program, advocates for an improved agricultural ordinance for all farmers, works to improve non-motorized road uses and trails, and is involved in other local issues that affect residents’ quality of life on this peninsula.
Is PTP duplicating the township’s efforts in this lawsuit?
No. The federal appellate court granted PTP the right to intervene and become a party in this case, just as the township and wineries are parties in the lawsuit. In doing so, the court recognized that PTP’s interests are different from township interests. While the township represents general interests, PTP represents the interests of wineries’ neighbors, Old Mission residents, and PTP members. PTP is already raising defenses that the township did not, including whether some of the wineries’ claims should be decided by state court rather than their current venue in federal court. PTP is particularly focused on preventing the wineries from undertaking activities like late hours and big events that disrupt the quality of life and character of our community.
Has PTP made a difference with their efforts to date?
Yes. Earlier this summer, it looked as if the wineries were well on their way to victory. But, in addition to granting PTP intervention in the case, the appeals court also lifted the injunction preventing the township from enforcing its winery ordinances. On top of that, Judge Maloney delayed trial and will consider PTP’s argument about whether some of the wineries’ claims even belong in federal court. These successes, along with PTP’s ability to litigate and present new arguments, are game changers. We need support for our legal team’s ongoing efforts if the winery lawsuit is to be defeated.
How do you spend money that is donated?
100% of donations are used to fight the wineries’ lawsuit and to oppose the inappropriate expansion of uses by the wineries.
Are Protect the Peninsula (PTP) and Preserve Old Mission (POM) the same organization?
PTP and POM are closely allied, but separate, organizations. In order for donations to be tax deductible, an organization must be classified by the IRS as a 501(c)3. PTP, although a non-profit, is not classified as a 501(c)3. POM, on the other hand, does have 501(c)3 status, and passes along 100% of donations to PTP’s defense against the wineries’ lawsuit. By donating through POM, donors receive maximum tax benefits available to them.
What are some common misconceptions about the winery lawsuit?
- “The Township broke off talks with the wineries” FALSE– the Township did not “break off talks”. After 5 meetings between September 4th 2019 and March 23 the April 14th 2020 meeting was cancelled due to COVID-19, with the assumption talks would restart in the future. Before any request for a restart was made by either side, WOMP sued the Township in October 2020.
- “Wineries have been trying since 2008 to work with the Township on a new ordinance” FALSE– There is no record of any discussions in 2008 or 2009. In 2010 the planner at the time initiated an effort to revamp the ordinance to satisfy requests by some grape growers. After the departure of that planner, in 2013, interest in the new approach was inadequate and the planning commission abandoned the effort. The only record of any proposals being brought to the Township between 2013 and the recent discussion between wineries & the Township, was the revision to expand production capability farm processing wineries brought to the planning commission and shepherded through passage at the town board in July 2018 by a current PTP Board Member.
- “Old Mission wineries are not allowed to buy any grapes outside of Old Mission Peninsula” FALSE– Wineries operating under the “Farm Processing” permit can buy up to 15% of their grapes from any location, any given year, and more on any year when there is a shortage of crop production. This 15% provision, known as appellation, ensures that as a winery sells more wine by bringing more traffic to the peninsula, they will automatically put more Old Mission Peninsula farm land into production. And the volume of that 15% of course grows with their increase of production, naturally allowing them to buy more and more product off of the peninsula. Alternatively, Chateau SUP wineries are only limited to the 15% restriction for wine served at guest activity events.
- “Protect the Peninsula never supports any changes to winery ordinances” FALSE– Protect the Peninsula supported a current PTP Board Member as he worked from 2016 – 2018 to propose and gain approval from the Township to expand production capability for farm processing wineries in order to improve their ability to compete. And in 2001 – 2002 Protect the Peninsula representatives met every 1–2 weeks for over six months with representatives of Wineries of Old Mission (WOMP)’s predecessor, the Agricultural Preservation League, in order to create a new use by right small winery ordinance, it is the current Farm Processing winery use under which a number of our current wineries operate. As a use by right permission, it also allows for easier and less expensive investment to open a winery. And most recently Protect The Peninsula advocated in a March 19, 2021 press release, as well as in the Old Mission Gazette for wineries to come to the table and work with citizens in the planning process to resolve our differences.
- “The Township never even allowed wineries to serve food until the state forced it to do so” FALSE– The Township has always allowed small plates of food to be served in the tasting rooms. The March 13, 1990 Special Use Permit for Chateau Chantal made no reference to disallow or allow cheese and crackers or other small plates with tastings, and they were considered a typical tasting activity in the tasting room to cleanse the pallet between tasting. The Township never made any effort to restrict that activity. The end result of a request in 1996 by Bob Begin to make an amendment to his special use permit was that the Township Board passed specific standards to define small plate service for tastings in the tasting room. At that point the common practice of food with tastings, which the Township had all along allowed, became a stated and clearly defined allowed use. The state liquor commission never ordered the Township to allow this food, which it was already allowing. The liquor commission eventually allowed sale of wine by the glass in wineries, with a minimum amount of food be served with that wine sold by the glass. Since it was now legal for wineries to sell by the glass, the wineries requested that right be included in the ordinance and the Township honored that request by allowing sale of wine by the glass. The Township was already compliant with the common practice that a minimum amount of food is served with that wine sold by the glass, due to the same small plate food previously allowed. Appropriately that small plate service is still allowed to this day.