Journeyman Distillery's fate in the air over waste water issue

Published: Jun. 5, 2018 at 11:07 PM EDT
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The future of Three Oaks' Journeyman Distillery is in the air.

The village handed the distillery cease and desist letters demanding it stop production.

At Tuesday's village planning commission meeting, many residents came together to back up the distillery.

The meeting was less about the distillery and more about the master plan for Three Oaks, but many people say there is no future for the village without Journeyman.

The village says Journeyman is creating too much waste according to an ordinance, so they're being told to stop production. Without production, the company wouldn't be able to maintain the business it wants to be and shut down. But the village also admitted their lagoon system where the waste is going hasn't been cleaned in years.

"It hasn't been upkept in roughly 30 years," Village Manager Mike Greene said.

With that lack of maintenance, many are wondering why Journeyman is being hit with the cease and desist as though they're the only ones causing waste.

"We don't have the data on everyone," Greene said. "We've had the data on Journeyman for over a this time it just seems like the right decision."

Journeyman is a big money maker for the town, regardless if it's breaking an ordinance. So dozens of angry residents squeezed into the tiny meeting room to give the planning commission their thoughts on the future of Three Oaks, or lack thereof, without Journeyman.

"If the planning commission wants to discuss the future of Three Oaks, we hope we're a part of that conversation," Journeyman Owner Bill Welter said.

"Until that issue is addressed, there's no point in talking about future businesses," One woman said. "Because this town won't be able to support them."

"For the first time in 11 years, I'm ashamed and appalled," One man said.

The commission listened, and told residents the lagoon system would be cleaned in the fall, but said they weren't able to make any decisions on Journeyman. That is up to the village council.

The village council's next meeting day is supposed to be next Wendesday, but the cease and desist goes into effect on Friday. So the planning commission made a motion to try and get the council to create a special meeting before the cease and desist on Friday.

Greene also says he has the ability to suspend to cease and desist if the council decides not to hold a special meeting.