Another Public Hearing Planned For Tasting Rooms Bill

The County Council approved some amendments to the legislation on Tuesday.

Frederick, Md (KM). A public hearing on an amended version of a bill to allow limited tasting rooms for farm beverage operations in Frederick County is expected to held at a later date. The Council on Tuesday made some changes to the legislation which requires that it go before citizens for their comments.

The bill would allow tasting rooms on farm distilleries, breweries and wineries located in agricultural and resource conservation areas. Parking would be provided at a rate of one space per 50 square feet, and it should be within a setback area. Amplified music would be allowed indoors only, and any non-amplified events would be approved by the Zoning Administrator.

The changes deal with amplified music, which some in the farm beverage industry wanted to hold outside. The amendment would allow it outside on a patio or deck, and  be confined to the accessory outdoor space. Hours for when the amplified music is permitted will be described in the zoning certificate. Any violations of the rules on outdoor amplified music., such as if the music being heard or observed outside of the hours it’s permitted, or the music is in violation of the county’s noise ordinance, could lead to a revocation of the zoning certificate.

Councilman Jerry Donald didn’t want any amplified music at farm beverage operations with tasting rooms. “This is about farming and I don’t how we’ve gone from farming to alcohol to tasting rooms to the need for outdoor amplified music on a farm,” he said.

Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater favored this amendment. “It defines where the music can occur,” she said. “And it says contained to the accessory outdoor space, meaning you can’t just set up a stage in the middle of a field somewhere. It has to be in the space that’s already approved.”

The vote to approve this amendment was 4-3 with Councilmen Donald and Kirby Delauter, and Council Vice President MC Keegan-Ayer opposed.

The Council also voted unanimously to define the 1500-square-foot limit on the size of the tasting rooms to exclude restrooms, food preparation areas and storage.

A lot of other  details will be considered by 10-member Craft Beverage Industry Events Work Group announced on Tuesday by County Executive Jan Gardner. The panel will consider the industry’s desire, the community’s needs, and public health and safety, according to a news release from the county. The objective will be to develop policy and propose  any necessary legislation.

The Work Group’s membership is County Executive Gardner, Council President Bud Otis, Councilman Tony Chmelik, Director of Planning and Permitting Steve Horn, Agriculture Economic Development Specialist Katie Albaugh, Lisa Gaver from the Frederick County Farm Bureau, Tom Mullinex from the Agriculture Business Council, Kevin Atticks from the Brewers Association of Maryland, winery and brewery owners Tom Barse and Howard Wilson. Farm Bureau President Robert Ramsbuirg will serve as an alternate to Ms. Gaver.

The task force’s first meeting is Thursday, April 20th.

By Kevin McManus