The Peninsula Township Board vowed to defend the township’s farmland preservation plan. Their May 10 meeting is your chance to speak up in public comment in support of that commitment, ahead of Federal Court mediation in Grand Rapids on May 13.
PTP is asking residents to attend the May 10 township meeting, or email comments ahead of the meeting, in support of the board’s defense of our master plan and agricultural zoning, and the work of the Citizen Agricultural Advisory Committee.
Peninsula Township’s nationally-recognized farmland preservation plan and zoning is being challenged by the wineries’ $200 million lawsuit, claiming they have a Constitutional right to host events and that state law forbids the township from limiting bars and restaurants open until 2:00 a.m. on farmland.
The township adopted farmland preservation and zoning decades ago to reduce township operating costs and preserve Peninsula’s mix of farming and residential. As a result, tree fruit farming on the peninsula is thriving, with another 300 acres of fruit trees planted in just the last 5 years. Compare that to about 800 acres planted by peninsula wineries in the last 46 years.
After capitalizing for decades on the scenic vistas and active farmland protected by our tax dollars and zoning, the wineries want to undo that and become events centers, bars and late night restaurants on Agriculturally-zoned farmland. The township allows all those activities in commercial zones. In sworn depositions, winery owners could not explain the basis of their shocking demand for $200,000,000 in damages for things they knew from the start were not allowed in farm zones.
In response to public input, the board created the Citizens Agricultural Advisory Committee in October to update zoning and give all farms equal rights. Guided by Township Planner Jennifer Cram, this volunteer citizen committee has worked diligently towards that goal for six months. The Planning Commission is expected to take up the ag committee’s recommendations starting mid-May. The wineries were offered committee seats, alongside farmers and residential neighbors, but they refused.
PTP supports the Peninsula Township Board. Please attend their May 10 meeting at 7 pm, call (231-223-7321), or email (Rob Manigold email@example.com or Rebecca Chown firstname.lastname@example.org) to support their work defending Peninsula’s farmland preservation plan and zoning.