County council approves bill that would help distilleries, breweries, and wineries

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Frederick County, Md., is a craft beverage industry leader in the state of Maryland and the Frederick County Council recently approved a bill that would help distilleries, breweries, and wineries in the county.

The Frederick County Council approved the amended bill for farm distilleries and tasting rooms, and limited farm brewery, distillery, and winery tasting rooms on Tuesday.

“This is an opportunity for existing farmers and new farmers to preserve the land, maybe change something what they are doing on their existing farm,” said Tom Barse, Owner of Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm, who supported the bill.

With a 5 to 2 vote, the bill creates a limited tasting room category to help small farm wineries and breweries and also create opportunities to locate farm distilleries, distillery tasting rooms, and limited distillery tasting rooms in the Agriculture and Resource Conservation zoning district.

“What we find is that every time a new brewery or winery opens in the county, we get busier,” said Barse. “So, we all kind of work together and corporate together, technically we are competitors, but we are more cooperators.”

There was a heavy debate before on the final vote on the concern of the outdoor music.

For instance, Council member Jerry Donald, who represents District 1 in Frederick County, was one of the two council member that voted against the bill.

“I think it will disturb the peaceful enjoyment of property of the neighbors in the area,” said Donald.

Council member Fitzwater and Vice President Keegan-Ayer also said they did see a concern with the outdoor music, but approved the bill.

“But, I do agree that we absolutely want to make sure that we are respecting the property rights of a joining property owner as well as the farmers that are starting out with these businesses and it is something that we will keep an eye on,” said Council member Fitzwater, who represents District 4 for the county.

Vice President Keegan-Ayer said that she will keeping a close watch on the outcome of the bill and will take steps to revoke the outdoor music, if businesses do not comply. 

The county currently has 12 farm winery and farm brewery tasking located within the Agriculture zoning district.

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