Danville finalizes zone change nine days after initial hearing

Published 7:26 am Saturday, December 16, 2017

Danville City Commission held its shortest meeting of the year Friday morning, spending less than two minutes called to order while it passed a second reading of a zone change.

Danville City Commissioners Kevin Caudill, left, and Rick Serres participate in Friday morning’s brief commission meeting. From the call to order to adjournment, the meeting lasted under two minutes. (Ben Kleppinger/ben.kleppinger@amnews.com)

With the zone change finalized, it’s now possible for a potential distillery project to move forward on an approximately 142-acre property on Lebanon Road.

The property is now zoned for industrial use, rather than agricultural and residential use. The change was recommended by the Danville-Boyle County Planning and Zoning Commission after it held a hearing on the matter Dec. 6.

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Normally, a zone change would take longer to finalize, but multiple officials said they were under the gun to get it done or the proposed new business opportunity could go away.

The P&Z Commission held a special called meeting the morning of Dec. 11 to finalize its minutes from the zone-change hearing, allowing Danville City Commission to have a complete record that same night, when it held a first reading of the ordinance enacting the zone change.

Friday’s second reading completes the process, clearing what City Attorney Stephen Dexter has called “the last hurdle” for the project.

The distillery that wants to build on Lebanon Road has not been named. The zone change was sought by the current property owner, the Boyle County Industrial Foundation.

The Industrial Foundation included a conceptual map of the distillery grounds with its zone-change application, which shows a “presentation center and office” with parking spaces at the entrance off of Lebanon Road. Behind that, there would be a “distillery” with its own parking lot and 17 “rickhouses,” warehouses that are used to store barrels of alcoholic drinks as they age. The map also notes an “access road to Wilderness Trail Distillery” as part of the plan.

Wilderness Trail Distillery is located next to the proposed distillery property, and its owners, Pat Heist and Shane Baker, attended the zone-change hearing in support of the project.

P&Z Director Steve Hunter has said the plan is expected to occur in two phases: The first phase would involve building the presentation center and three rickhouses on the front portion of the property; the second phase would be a much larger project to construct the distillery building and the other 14 rickhouses.

Winfield Frankel, an attorney for the Industrial Foundation, has said the project is initially expected to create five to 10 jobs.

“Depending on how much expansion actually occurs on the back end of the property, it’s really hard to pinpoint how many new jobs are going to be created,” he said during last week’s zone-change hearing. “… It could be 50, it just depends.”

Jody Lassiter, president of the Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership, has said the distillery business would have “low job intensity” but “high capital intensity,” with thousands of barrels of bourbon generating “a huge amount of property taxes,” especially for the Boyle County School District.

The P&Z Commission signed off on the zone change with three conditions, which the Industrial Foundation agreed to:

• any entrance off of Lebanon Road will be subject to approval and directed by the Kentucky Department of Transportation;

• all truck traffic, excluding construction traffic, must not use the Lebanon Road entrance to property, but a connector road from Wilderness Trail Distillery or a future road planned to be built off of Corporate Drive in the industrial park; and

• when the second, larger phase of the project is built, the truck traffic must flow on the yet-to-be-built Corporate Drive connector.

Besides potential traffic problems, some neighbors of the property raised concerns at the zone-change hearing about mold propagating in the area once the rickhouses are filled with aging alcohol.

P&Z did not place any conditions on the zone change concerning mold. No one spoke against the zone change at the first or second readings by city commission.