Albemarle County Adopts Farm Winery Zoning Ordinance; Likely to Serve As Statewide Model
From Matt Conrad Director of the Virginia Wine Council:
“Last week the Virginia Wine Council attended the 2:00 p.m. meeting of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors. This meeting represented an end to nearly two years of work by the VWC to shape a farm winery zoning ordinance that strikes a balance between the county’s need to protect the welfare of its citizens and farm wineries’ need for regulatory certainty and sustained economic viability.
Throughout work sessions and planning commission meetings, the VWC has consistently argued that the best way to preserve the rural character of Albemarle County and counties like it is to ensure that agriculture is profitable. The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors did just that yesterday in unanimously adopting the proposed ordinance.
Effective immediately, the ordinance’s relevant provisions include:
* Definitions of “farm winery” and “agritourism” that mirror the State Code definitions (prior versions required contiguous parcels and made reference to commercial activities, respectively).
* Recognition of production, tasting, direct sale, shipment, and storage of wine as by-right activities.
*The ability of farm wineries to engage in/host usual and customary events and activities without regulation.
* Three specific classes of usual and customary events will be limited to 200 persons at any one time (rather than cumulatively). There is no limitation in frequency.
*No limitation on tasting room hours other than in adopting the hours kept in the “normal course of business of the farm winery” by the farm winery itself.
* A one-time special use permit process for similar farm winery events where attendance will be greater than 200 persons.
*Fair application of the general noise ordinance as currently applied to rural areas throughout the county. Amplified music is permitted but may not be audible 100 feet from the property line.
Several Albemarle County wineries attended to show their support and appreciation of the professionalism and cooperation of planning staff and county leadership. In attendance were representatives of Albemarle CiderWorks, Blenheim Vineyards, Keswick Vineyards, and King Family Vineyards. The Albemarle County Chamber of Commerce also spoke in favor of the ordinance as adopted.”