Council Considering Legislation Allowing Farm-Based Beverage Promotional Events

It was drafted by a work group.


Frederick, Md (KM) Legislation which would allow farm breweries, wineries and distilleries to hold promotional events on their properties was discussed Tuesday by the Frederick County Council. “It would recognize these kinds of activities as accessory to the normal and customary activities that are taking place on the agricultural use of the property,” says Steve Horn, the County’s Director of the Division of Planning and Permitting.

The measure came out of the Craft Beverage Events Work Group formed in April, 2017. Recognizing that the beverage industry had requested the ability to hold educational and promotional events on their properties. The panel consisted of winery and brewery owners, industry representatives, the Agricultural Business Council, the Farm Bureau,  and members of the County Council and the County staff.

“The work group suggested and proposed that the vendors looking to take advantage of this legislation must acquire first their Maryland Alcohol Manufacturer’s License,” says Horn. In order to hold these events, they will also  need to apply for a one-time zoning certificate.

But Horn says these property owners need to be aware of the concerns of their neighbors,especially when it comes to noise and traffic. He says violators could be fined, or be prohibited from holding these events in the future. “If you’ve got constant complaints out there about bad behavior, traffic issues, I think the point of the zoning certificate is at least  give the local government some leverage on trying to correct those,” he says.

The proposal would also prohibit outdoor music after 9:00 PM, and there would be no overnight events.

Councilman Tony Chmelik said he doesn’t expect that to be a problem from farmers who want to hold these events on their properties. “This is kind of like I’m hoping a first and last step, honestly, because the industry so far has shown itself to be pretty responsible,”: he said. “I don’t think we’ve had a lot of complaints from the farm wineries and the breweries that are out there.”

He says this legislation was compromise. “I think this really reached a happy medium where it’s not  overly bearing. I think the industry will be happy with it. I’m hoping when the bill comes forward, they will testify in favor of it,” he says.

The legislation is expected to be introduced to the Council at a later date.

The Planning and Permitting Division says even if this measure is approved, farm-based breweries, distilleries and  wineries which hold these promotional events will still be required to meet minimum life safety and Health Department rules and regulations.

Banquets and weddings will be allowed on some farm-based craft beverage locations, but only if the property owners have the necessary permits, reviews and approvals, according to the County Planning Staff.


By Kevin McManus