Township halts events at Benzie County winery
BENZIE COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- A popular winery in Benzie County has to put a stop to all their events after getting a cease and desist order from their township.
St. Ambrose Cellars received a memo from the Homestead township zoning administrator, saying hosting events violates an ordinance, but the owner says he had never heard about it before.
“It's stating that all events must cease at St. Ambrose Cellars and it caught us blindsided. We had no idea this was coming we didn't have any prior word from the township or thought there were any issues,” said owner Kirk Jones.
The cellar has been in business for several years, and often has weddings and events throughout the summer.
“I think events are important to bring people together and it contributes to the cultural fabric of our community and I hope we can continue in a good neighborly way,” said Jones.
While it wasn't on the agenda, it was brought up at the Homestead Township board meeting, where officials say they're not happy the letter was posted on social media.
“I thought personally that it was childish and it shouldn't have been handled that way,” said Homestead Township supervisor, Shannon Purchase.
But residents say the township should have spoken with Jones personally, and banning events only hurts them.
“All we're doing is pushing more business away from Homestead Township,” said resident Mike Taillard.
While others say they do have concerns with the noise from the events.
“We're not begrudging them a business,” said resident Debbie Fowler. “We're glad that they’re employing people. We’re just asking, he always says he wants to be neighborly, were just asking hey give us some compassion.”
Jones says he is hopeful there is a solution soon.
“It's so important that we try to find a solution because we have people that are already planning on getting married at our place and we have the Grow Benzie event already scheduled for July and it's important to try to find a solution,” said Jones.
Township officials say this doesn't mean the winery can't ever host events again, they just have to get the correct permits in order.