New South Jersey Winery On Track To Open In Somers Point, NJ
A new Winery is on track to open in Somers Point, instead of Marmora, as legal battles continue in Upper Township over the validity of legal protections afforded to a 5-acre farm by New Jersey's Right to Farm Act.
Land that used to be a Christmas Tree Farm, owners Mike and Robin Halpern have converted into a Vineyard with the goal of producing wine. Their business, Ocean City Winery, was originally intended to open at the property where they live on Bayaire Avenue near the municipal border of Marmora and Beasley's Point. But since the 5-acre farm is located in a neighborhood and is not isolated like many vineyards in Cape May County, Upper Township residents aggressively protested the opening of a winery in their community.
As part of the Halperns agreement to not have any wine sales, commercial tastings, or events that involve the consumption of craft products on their property, they have acquired an old house in Somers Point. Originally built in 1905, the property has been used as the location for a bakery and catering business in recent years. So the old house located at the corner of Bay Avenue and Delaware Avenue across the street from the Anchorage Tavern is a good location for the Ocean City Winery and the owners plan to use part of the property for an Airbnb.
While the Halperns do not have official approval from the City of Somers Point to open the Winery Outlet yet, the southernmost municipality of Atlantic County has been positive towards the small business owners. The Halperns are also still waiting for a license from New Jersey's Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, so they are not producing wine yet. For now, the 5-acre farm in Marmora is still just a Vineyard growing grapes.
In the meantime, the citizens of their neighborhood in Marmora and officials in Upper Township are still going through the appeals process to prohibit the Halperns from using their property to farm grapes with the intent of making wine. Since the land has been consistently used as farmland since the 1970's, the New Jersey Right To Farm Act protects the land from any development and must be used for farming. But their neighbors on Bayaire Avenue and Upper Township officials dispute the protections legally afforded to the Halperns and their property.
Mike Halpern has installed security around his home and 5-acre farm due to vandalism of the vineyard and the assumption is that the neighbors are directly or indirectly responsible for that. Seems like Upper Township Officials and the Bayaire Avenue Neighbors are deadset against this vineyard at all costs while the Halperns have comprised more than anyone going through the last several months.