Board Correctly Restrains Gonser and Thalmann on Rochester Cider Mill

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


3 thoughts on “Board Correctly Restrains Gonser and Thalmann on Rochester Cider Mill

  1. Linda Andersen

    When you stated “residents close to the property” you should rightly say “some”. I have attended these meetings and I also heard very close neighbors state that they had no issue with the Rochester Cider Mill. I think people should calm down, take a deep breath and regroup. The Barkhams are open 4 months of the year. Tell me, what business, any business, can maintain their property being open 4 months of the year?? It only makes sense that if the Mill were open year round it would bring in more money and thus they would be able to make much needed improvements. This is Trevor’s livelihood. Honestly, I have never seen anyone work harder and with more tenacity than Trevor Barkham. In the face of adversity, he plugs away and doesn’t stop. All the naysayers are commenting that “kids will buy beer there” and the “noise level” and the “traffic jams”. I doubt greatly they would be ignorant enough to sell beer to minors. And if your kids want beer, there are any number of places to get it…not a Cider Mill.

    As to tabling this again, obviously none of the board are farmers. It is time to get out in the fields and decide what you are going to plant. How in the world can Barkhams do this, when they have no idea of their fate? Vote, be done with it, no matter how it turns out…although I clearly am on the Cider Mill side, move on.

    Thank you.

  2. RJC

    A very one sided comment if you don’t live near the Rochester Cider Mill.

    1. Trevor does not own the Cider Mill. It is owned by Tom & Ruth Barkam
    2. The Cider Mill was only allowed to open in 1981 as a “Non-Conforming Use.” This has very specific legal limitations. It is a property that is supposed to eventually return to its designated zoning. In this case, that is Residential. The Barkhams knew this when they purchased the property.
    3. The method that the Board of Trustees is using to change its zoning is against its own by-laws. They are trying to rezone the property without the proper due diligence or public notice. The “Special Use” they are asking for does not conform or even come close to the Oakland Township definition for “Special Use” zoning.
    4. The Barkham’s long history as an Oakland Township family has nothing to do with the legal issues in this case. If the consent agreement is changed as proposed, any future owner can then operate the property to produce as much as a million bottles of beer.
    5. The Cider Mill has been an eyesore on the neighbor’s border for 30 years.
    6. The change is zoning will greatly decrease the property values of the adjoining residents while doubling or tripling the value of the Cider Mill land. Imagine if there was a cider mill next door to your house and they decided to make it a convenience store.

    I could add 6 more but these are the main objections to this travesty.


  3. disappointedresident

    Well, if the Barkhams were so hard working, why haven’t they cleaned up the mess around there? That doesn’t cost anything and shows me the level of commitment to the place, or lack thereof. Dr. Barkham Sr. certainly has the cash. I don’t live around the mill, but if I did, I would not have a problem with it being open year round as I too am a customer there, but a distillery and tastings? That is a deal breaker for me. I agree with the zoning question. It will open a can of worms that Oakland Twp. doesn’t want. If another owner comes in, they will take advantage of it. This is not a proper way of doing things, it should go before the Planning and Zoning Commission for vetting and a recommendation just like every other zoning change.


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