2018-05-24 / Views

Essential parts remain

Welcome back to Leelanau. We’ve missed you, kind of.

The traditional start to the “busy season” on the peninsula — Memorial Day weekend — has been blurred by the advance of shoulder seasons to places of prominence. So we started noticing an uptick in traffic a few weeks ago despite a spring that forgot to bring its weather.

But overall it’s been quiet here for months, a reprieve from hosting hundreds of thousands of visitors. Those just arriving will note that tart cherries remain in full bloom over some of the peninsula. Mushroom season is far from over. And you’ll even get to witness the unfolding of oak leaves over Memorial Day weekend.

We figure Mother Nature to be about 10 days later than normal. Then again, she gets to set her own calendar.

What else is different on the Peninsula? In what has become a tradition for our Memorial Day weekend issue, following are some updates on Leelanau issues:

 Pot. Residents of Solon Township voiced their disapproval last summer for a proposed, large “medical marijuana” factory, ending in the Township Board resolving not to host such operations. So far no local government in the county has hung a “locate here” sign. So while medical marijuana may remain popular among the masses in the state — recall that a state Constitution amendment easily passed — it’s not so widely accepted here, at least in the form of large-scale grow operations.

Of course, all bets are off the table should recreational use of pot be approved in an upcoming statewide referendum.

 Alcohol. On the beer, liquor, wine and hard cider front, Leelanau seems all in. We can’t count all of the establishments in the countryside that sell and serve alcoholic beverages. From the local standpoint, the thought seems to be that making a living by growing commodity crops has become difficult to impossible. Leelanau’s farmlands have found new life in the hospitality business. The economic good that comes from the alcohol business continues to overshadow complaints about noisy wedding bands.

 Will this be the summer that local governments square off against short-term rentals? So far only Northport Village and Suttons Bay Township and Village have adopted ordinances specifically regulating the growing “cottage” industry. There’s been talk from elected officials representing other jurisdictions, but so far no action.

 Other thoughts. We anticipate a huge season for tourism, which will be unaffected by higher gas prices. Housing will remain in short supply for workers. Drivers will cuss at road workers on M-72 between Shimek’s Corner and Empire for much of the month of August, but praise Leelanau’s road network next summer.

As we reported at this time in 2017, the essential parts of Leelanau remain the same. Family farms dominate the hillsides, businesses are locally owned and the Lakeshore and Leelanau Conservancy are watching over land that will remain unchanged at least throughout our lifetimes.

Welcome home.

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