At the April 8, 2014 Board of Trustees meeting a large number of citizens spoke their minds about the request to allow the Rochester Cider Mill to be developed to include a winery, a brewery, a public tasting facility and retail selling of wine and beer. The speakers were divided in their opinions pro and con and no single point of view dominated. While no one spoke against the cider mill itself, residents close to the property were concerned about traffic safety, alcohol consumption, the smell of the beverage manufacturing and property values. Those in favor spoke of the need to support the business, the history of six generations of the Barkham family in Oakland Township (they own the property) and the 80 year history of the cider mill. This proposal has not been reviewed by the Planning Commission, Township Planner or the Township Engineer because the Board is being asked to change the court ordered consent judgment that has allowed the property to be used as a cider mill during the normal apple cider season. The Board has the power to do this on their own without help and consultation. Supervisor Gonser clearly was ready to see it approved with no further information. Treasurer Langlois and Trustees Bailey, Buxar and McKay voted to table the decision until they could get an opinion from some of the professionals. We should thank them for that. Gonser and Thalmann were, again, in the minority with their “No” votes.
Quality development requires planning and engineering. It requires contractual obligations from the developer that the end product will not create:
- unsafe traffic conditions;
- unmanaged water flows onto the road or adjacent properties;
- inadequate parking that will cause congestion and turmoil;
- nuisance levels of noise, smells, pollution or light;
- unacceptable incursion upon neighbors;
Our Board of Trustees are the only ones with the opportunity to ensure that this becomes a quality development and a proper gateway to Oakland Township.
Jim Foulkrod, former Planning Commissioner