Old Mission Peninsula Wineries File Lawsuit Against Township for Allegedly Violating Constitutional Rights

Several wineries on Old Mission Peninsula have filed a lawsuit against Peninsula Township for violating their constitutional rights. 

“This doesn’t have anything to do with COVID. This is years in the making,” says Chris Baldyga, owner of Two Lads Winery.  

For the last 10 years, wineries on Old Mission have been meeting with the township to eliminate ordinances that are nearly three decades old. 

Baldyga says, “While we understand that there’s a good base for some of them in terms of the thought of promoting agriculture out here, they also restrict the wineries.”  

Baldyga says the ordinances restrict them from hosting certain events, market themselves and grow certain crops, which he says violated the First Amendment rights, Commerce Clause and Michigan’s alcohol laws.

“We’re restricted both in our ability to market ourselves as individual wineries. All 11 wineries on Old Mission Peninsula would like to do things slightly different than the next and we’re restricted in all of those,” Baldyga says. 

The township met with the wineries earlier this year before the pandemic and came up with a draft proposal. 

However, Baldyga says the changes were minimal.

“There’s never been any positive traction with them, we’ve come to the table and it seems to be this treadmill of having the same conversation of small incremental changes that just don’t really move the bar for us.” 

Now, all 11 wineries on the peninsula have filed a lawsuit. 

Township Supervisor Rob Manigold says they were shocked because they thought they were working together. 

“We got a call from the Ticker saying we were being sued today and we hadn’t even been served and an hour and a half ago we find out that it was taken down to a Federal Court in Grand Rapids,” Manigold says.

Baldyga says, “We’re hoping for a quick resolution, we don’t want to see this drag on or stretch, we just want to them to come to the table and make positive change.”