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Posted: 12/05/12

Oakland cider mill given
OK to sell holiday items

by STACY SOBOTKA
Observer Special Writer
      The Oakland Township Board of Trustees approved a request for an amendment of a prior court order to allow the Rochester Cider Mill to temporarily sell Christmas trees and related holiday items at a special meeting Nov. 27.
       The Barkham family, who owns the cider mill, have been battling the Oakland County Circuit Court since they purchased the mill and the surrounding land in 1981. The land is zoned as medium residential. That year, the Barkhams petitioned the Zoning Board of Appeals to reopen the mill. The board determined "there was an abandonment of the nonconforming use" and denied their application.
       The Barkham family then filed a lawsuit in the Oakland County Circuit Court, which ruled in their favor; the cider mill could operate as it existed at the conclusion of the cider season in 1978, when it was operated by its previous owners, the Miller family.
       In 1983, an instant matter was filed because of the family's expansion of the non-conforming use and alleged violations of the restrictions placed on the cider mill. Four years later, Judge Richard Kuhn issued the legal nonconforming use order that currently is in effect. This order allows the cider mill to operate as a business despite it being zoned for residential use, and limits the operation of the Rochester Cider Mill to certain business hours. It also restricts the cider mill's season to 18 consecutive weeks starting in September and permits the Barkhams to market their products.
       The board decided on the second option recommended to them, which would not only allow the Barkhams to sell Christmas trees, but other holiday related items such as wreaths, lighting for their display, and a sign to advertise the tree sale. It would also allow the township to notify neighbors of the cider mill of the court's decision if it is approved.
       "We're very pleased that they approved it," said Trevor Barkham, cider mill manager. "We just want to do a normal tree lot and offer ancillary products."
       The request will now go to the Oakland County Circuit Court where they will decide if the sale can go through.
       In other business, the Board of Trustees:
       • Appointed Dr. Pierre Atallah as the Oakland Township citizen representative to the Older Persons Commission Board of Trustees.
       • Received the 2013-2014 fiscal year budgets.
       • Approved the discontinuation of a township compacting recycling truck provided one Saturday per month at the township hall. The decision was made due to high costs and a small turnout of residents using it.


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