Peninsula Township updates: lawsuit for vineyards, more MPs, bluff / erosion road issues
Following a recent crowded Peninsula Township meeting in which residents asked authorities for details of an ongoing mediation process with the Old Mission Peninsula Vineyards (WOMP), the township council agreed to d ” organize a community information session on October 6 at 7 p.m. in St. Joseph. Catholic Church. The teleprinter has the latest news on the WOMP lawsuit and other updates from the Peninsula Township, including the hiring of a second deputy to patrol the township, the search for a town planner and the erosion issues plaguing Bluff Road and several other roads.
Continuation of the cellar
The Township of Peninsula and the Old Mission Peninsula wineries have entered a mediation process to try to resolve a federal lawsuit filed by WOMP last fall, alleging that the township’s zoning laws unfairly restrict wineries and unconstitutional. After five mediation sessions, the township’s trustees met behind closed doors at their board meeting last week to discuss a proposed settlement agreement with WOMP. The move has alarmed Protect the Peninsula, a group of citizens who have sought to intervene in the lawsuit – although the courts have yet to rule on the request – and whose members were among a crowd of more than 75 residents. who showed up at the board meeting.
Sound and streaming issues hampered the meeting, adding to residents’ frustrations at not having a chance to weigh in before the township potentially reaches a settlement. Protect the Peninsula issued a statement calling for a “fully open public discussion on any rule changes regarding wineries the township is considering before the township votes on their relaxation.” While we appreciate the tough job before City Council and realize that a good settlement for all is possible, these are huge public policy issues for everyone on the peninsula. A public process will better serve all parties and avoid the backlash of a secret negotiation with unexpected or unsatisfactory results. As residents and taxpayers, we deserve to know what is happening in our community and to have a voice.
Following their closed session, the Trustees agreed that because a Board member was absent and they wanted to hear from all of the Trustees before approving a deal, they would delay taking action. . Council also agreed to hold a community briefing on October 6 before the next council meeting to hear public comment before voting on a bylaw. Township supervisor Rob Manigold said administrators are legally prohibited from discussing details of mediation sessions publicly, but will listen and attempt to address residents’ concerns at the meeting. “We’re going to go through the cellar counts step by step, and people can give their opinion on them,” he said.
Manigold says he hopes all parties can come to an agreement – avoiding the costly litigation the courts have urged Peninsula Township and WOMP to try to avoid. However, Manigold also acknowledges that many residents fear that a settlement could lead to more relaxed rules for wineries and an increase in traffic and events. “There is a lot of concern right now with the people who live next to these wineries,” he says. “I think we have to remember that we are all neighbors here. We have to respect each other. Hopefully we will come to a resolution. We’re a community, we’re going to get away with it one way or another.
In other news from Peninsula Township…
> Last week, administrators unanimously agreed to pay a second deputy to patrol Peninsula Township. The township is contracting with the Grand Traverse Sheriff’s Office for a community police officer at this time, but has agreed to pay an additional $ 86,000 per year for a second CPO to provide seven days a week coverage on Old Mission, including some evenings. “There was a lot of concern on social media about speeding, and we got to the point where we thought it was time,” Manigold said. The township has a surplus of $ 300,000 in its general fund, according to meeting minutes, which will help pay for the contract. The directors approved the hiring of the CPO on a two-year contract to begin. Manigold notes that with a “light” staffing at the sheriff’s office, it could be a few months before the second deputy is hired and on the road.
> After recently considering amalgamating the Peninsula Township zoning and planning departments, the administrators decided to keep the departments separate. However, the township is still looking for a new planner – and is about to restart its search process. Manigold says the township was in negotiations to hire finalist Eric Wedesky – a professional planner who has worked for organizations in Miami, Toronto and the eastern part of the Upper Peninsula – but Wedesky decided not to take the job. The township is reposting the post in the hope of attracting a new generation of applicants.
> After a record summer summer of rain in the Traverse City area, Peninsula Township is struggling with erosion issues along several roads. A half-mile stretch of Bluff Road that has been closed for more than a year due to erosion is still not accessible to the public, with the Grand Traverse County Road Commission (GTCRC) working with the GEI consultant to determine possible solutions and cost estimates for approaching the corridor. According to GEI, Bluff Road faces two major challenges: erosion from wave action on the beach side, especially when lake levels are high, and surface water rushing down the hill from the residential side of the beach. Bluff Road. The thick clay in the soil of the hill prevents water from seeping naturally into the soil, instead forcing it to flow horizontally under the road, thus contributing to erosion.
At the August 26 GTCRC meeting, a GEI consultant estimated that it could cost between $ 1 million and $ 1.5 million to put in place rock reinforcement along 1,500 feet of the road – a price that does not include the additional cost of lowering the equipment into the destabilized area. de Bluff, according to the meeting minutes. A second phase of work would still be necessary beyond to treat the runoff coming down the hill. While the GTCRC is still under review with the GEI, the Mission Hills Homeowners Association expressed frustration in a recent letter to township administrators that the Highways Commission “refused to take low-cost preventative measures to alleviate surface waters along the affected area “and attempted” to shape the public’s perception of the lack of workable solutions to reopen Bluff Road, but these solutions exist and should continue to be explored. ” Township administrators therefore voted last week to pass a resolution calling on the GTCRC “to fulfill its statutory obligations to repair and reopen Bluff Road in order to restore the critical north-south access it provides to members of the public, which the GTCRC serves ”.
In addition to Bluff Road, erosion issues continue to be a problem in other areas of Old Mission, including Center Road. Crews completed work on a slope restoration project to the south end of Center Road along East Grand Traverse Bay on Wednesday, a project that required the installation of a temporary traffic light to maintain a traffic lane. around the construction site. The $ 98,270 project was treated as a “pass-through” project by the GTCRC, which means that the state will fully reimburse the Roads Commission for the costs of the project. Areas further north on Center Road, as well as a site on Smokey Hollow Road, also have recurring erosion problems. “With the rain that we have had, we have places that are breaking free and letting loose,” said Christina Dereen, the township zoning director. “There have been so many. “