By Sean Tubbs
Thursday, May 6, 2010
A pair of zoning amendments adopted Wednesday by the
Albemarle County Board of Supervisors
will make it easier for farms and wineries to sell their products.
“The best way to preserve the rural character of Albemarle County is to make agriculture profitable,” said Matt Conrad of the Virginia Wine Council during a public hearing.
One of the amendments
allows farmers to sell products at stands operated on land they do not own, something that had previously not been permitted.
The new language also allows farmers’ markets to be operated in more zoning districts throughout the county. Farms with their own stores can now be expanded to as much as 4,000 square feet, and owners are allowed to sell accessory products and non-local produce.
The other amendment gives
wineries more opportunities
to hold special events to attract customers. Previously, Albemarle restricted the amount of people allowed to attend events held at wineries to no more than 150 people, and restricted such events to no more than 12 a year.
This table shows the additional opportunities allowed under the zoning text amendment adopted Wednesday.
Click for a .PDF
The county had placed those restrictions in order to control traffic volumes in the rural areas, but a 2007 law passed by the General Assembly limits the ability of localities to regulate wineries.
The ordinance change would raise the by-right attendance figure to 200, with permits being required for events that exceed that amount. Further, there is no longer a limit to the number of special events that can be held.
Full-fledged restaurants are still be prohibited at farm wineries, but the ordinance now allows wineries to operate kitchens to provide finger-foods, appetizers and soups.
Both wineries and farm stands will still have to work with the Virginia Department of Transportation to ensure that their entrances are up to state code. Department of Health officials must check to make sure kitchens are sanitary.
Farmer Corky Shackleford thanked the county for addressing the needs of the agricultural community.
“The staff have been very sensitive to the interests of the farmers and the winery people,” Shackleford said. “I’m not sure that’s always been true.”