Boyle P&Z OKs scaled-back first phase for new distillery

Published 8:19 am Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Boyle County Industrial Foundation has gained state approval to build a main entrance to a proposed new distillery on Lebanon Road. But the phase-one site plan for IJW Whiskey, approved Wednesday by the Danville-Boyle County Planning and Zoning Commission, does not yet include the new entrance, only an existing gravel “construction entrance.”

Jody Lassiter, representing the Industrial Foundation, told P&Z the organization received approval from the state for the entrance on the state highway on Tuesday.

Lassiter said the state was in agreement with the engineer on the project, Kendal Wise with Vantage Engineering, about where the best location for an entrance would be.

Email newsletter signup

“They suggested that the best entrance was exactly as Kendal had designed it,” Lassiter said.

But if a main entrance is to be built on Lebanon Road, the Industrial Foundation or IJW Whiskey will need a new site plan approval from P&Z.

Initially, officials said they expected a two-phase construction plan for IJW Whiskey at the Lebanon Road property next to Wilderness Trail Distillery: a first phase that would include a “presentation center,” a main entrance and three “rickhouses,” warehouses used to store and age barrels of alcohol; and a second phase that would include a distillery building and 14 more rickhouses.

But at Wednesday’s P&Z meeting, P&Z Director Steve Hunter said the presentation center and entrance off of Lebanon Road had been excluded from the first site plan submitted for the property.

The plan calls for the three rickhouses to be connected to Wilderness Trail Distillery’s property by an access road. 

“Really now, this becomes possibly a three-phase project, where phase one is just going to be these three rickhouses,” Hunter said. “They would come in later at the point the presentation center is ready to be built … and then of course, phase three would be the option or the growth to the rear for the other rickhouses and the distillery.”

Hunter said he complimented the new first phase during technical review because of how much of the discussion at a zone-change hearing for the property had focused on the potential problems of adding the proposed entrance on Lebanon Road.

During the December zone-change hearing, the biggest sticking point for members of the P&Z Commission had been safety along Lebanon Road. Commissioners questioned the wisdom of putting an entrance along that stretch of road, which is narrow, curved, near a hill and already known for being a wreck-prone stretch of highway.

Wise, the engineer, said at the time that he and a surveyor checked the roadway and found that sight lines from the proposed entrance in either direction meet or exceed the state requirement of 495 feet. The nearby entrance to Wilderness Trail Distillery and the intersection of Lebanon Road and Alum Springs Cross Pike both have worse sight lines, Wise said.

Hunter said at the hearing that he drove out to the area to see for himself what it’s like and even pulled into a gravel drive on the property in question and then turned back onto Lebanon Road.

“It’s sketchy out there — that’s the best I can say,” he said at the time. “… The unknowns are still a bother to me, but the good news is this: We get to see a site plan down the road if this is approved.”

Hunter said Wednesday he felt the scaled-back plan is “an appropriate way to move forward with phase one after so much discussion about access.”

“We, at least for today, can take that off the table and move forward with what truly is phase one, which is construction of these first three rickhouses and travel ways,” he said. “… We’ll figure all this out as we move on into the future.”

The motion to approve the site plan was made by new P&Z Commissioner Mary Beth Touchstone and seconded by Commissioner Terry Manon. It passed unanimously.

Lassiter said later Wednesday that the existing gravel drive into the property, which is currently farmland, would be used as a “construction entrance” while the rickhouses are built.

“The site plan approved earlier today described the existing entrance as a construction entrance. Phase 1 will be constructed as planned,” he said. “The expansion and use of the new paved entrance approved by the (state) encroachment permit would be shown on future site plans, particularly for the presentation center/office when it is constructed — but for the current phase, it is only a construction entrance.”


P&Z Chair Jerry Leber said an individual has made a request that the P&Z Commission end its practice of holding a prayer at the beginning of commission meetings. Because two of the commissioners were absent Wednesday, Leber said he wanted to hold off on a discussion of the issue until the commission’s February meeting, scheduled for Feb. 7. Asked after the meeting about the request, Leber said he would not identify the individual, but he would see if they wanted to speak at the February meeting.