County changes course on distilled spirits storage buildings

Published 4:04 pm Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Boyle County Fiscal Court stepped back on its earlier decision and gave the Planning and Zoning Commission a “clear directive” to start an amendment to the zoning ordinance text allowing distilled spirits storage buildings in agricultural zoned districts with a conditional use permit. It also announced Alum Springs Convenience Center was no longer being considered as a site for dead livestock composting, during its nearly four-hour online meeting Tuesday morning.

Once P&Z develops and presents the proposed amendment at a public forum, and if the fiscal court approves it, Wilderness Trail Distillery can then apply for a conditional use permit to construct storage facilities on agriculturally zoned property it purchased late last year. 

The only other alternatives for the distillery to increase its bourbon barrel storage capacity would be to request its farmland be zoned industrial — which the owners don’t want to do — or move the bulk of its storage and bottling facilities to another county where there are no zoning restrictions outside of city limits, co-owner Shane Baker said in a previous interview.

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In early March, owners of Wilderness Trail Distillery thought they had permission to begin construction of a new storage facility on a 117-acre tract just across the road from the distillery.

However, at the last minute, they learned that the new countywide zoning ordinance doesn’t provide an option for a conditional use permit for rickhouses in ag districts.

After a lengthy discussion about why the text amendment needed to be written, Boyle County Judge-Executive Howard Hunt said, “Boyle County, right now, has but one option, and that is a zone change, as far as this industry (bourbon distilleries) is concerned.” The fiscal court was being asked to consider “the initiation of a second option,” he added.

Magistrate John Caywood, who previously voted against pursuing an amendment allowing distilleries to apply for a conditional use permit to construct their rickhouses out in the the country said, “If this is going to be part of the distillery process, then we need to change a fair amount of stuff that works for them, and it helps them, as well as us. We need to look closely at this,” especially since “this is a type of industry that we’re going to solicit.”

Magistrate Jamey Gay made the motion “to direct the Planning Commission to start the process for a zoning ordinance text amendment to allow distilled spirits storage in agricultural zone using Nelson County’s conditional use ordinance as a base …”

Magistrate Tom Ellis seconded the motion, which passed on a vote of 6 to 1, with Magistrate Phil Sammons voting against it.

In other business, Hunt said at the beginning of the meeting, he was taking the issue of dead animal composting off of any future agendas until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides and a public forum can be held “face to face,” to discuss the issue.

He then added, “Upon further investigation of environmental circumstances beyond human control … Alum Springs is currently no longer a point of consideration as a potential site,” for countywide dead livestock composting. Hunt said his officer received more than 100 calls “on that site alone. … That’s all I’m going to say about that.”

However, under new business later in the meeting, Magistrate Ellis had a lot more to say about the issue and the possibility of locating the composting site at Perryville Convenience Center.

Ellis shared information he received from the Kentucky Historical Society, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and standards and requirements from the Soil Conservation  and the Kentucky Agriculture Water Quality Plan, which he said members of the court had asked him to bring to Tuesday’s meeting.

Ellis went on to say that a dead livestock composting facility “must meet or exceed the current Department of Agriculture Standards.” The Perryville site “simply does not meet regulations on half a dozen or more issues.”

If the county continues pursuing the Perryville location, “We would be subject to litigation that our taxpayers could not afford.”

Magistrate Jason Cullen asked Ellis if he thought the entire Perryville Convenience Center should be closed because of “environmental concerns” because of the possibility of hydraulic fluids, trash and other litter contaminating the site and nearby Chaplin River.

“From watermelons to pumpkins, sir,” Ellis stated. “That is not the consideration.”

After more back and forth between the two magistrates, Hunt interjected saying, “I’m sure that’s enough said under new business because, I said earlier, that we would not discuss it. But we discussed it under new business at length, ad nauseum.” 



Magistrates learned that members of Boyle County High School Future Farmers of America have flowers ready for planting at Constitution Square as part of its contract with the county to grow, plant and maintain flower beds at the park through October. 

However, because the school is closed due to COVID-19, they won’t be able to plant or maintain the beds after all, and offered to donate the pansies, marigolds and geraniums they had grown for the project.

Magistrate Phil Sammons made a motion that the court reimburse the organization for the flowers anyway, for a total of nearly $700, which passed unanimously.

Near the end of the meeting, in a quiet and solemn voice, Caywood asked the court to adjourn “In honor of a very fine gentleman, Mary’s dad, Rey Schaefer.” (Boyle County Treasurer Mary Conley)

“If you didn’t know Rey, you missed out on something in life because Rey was an interesting guy. … When you saw him, when you left him and walked down the street, you realized you learned a little something from him. He was that kind of gentleman.”

Caywood said to Conley, “We will always remember your dad. Remember him with his humor, and his fondness and his seriousness for life and how he wanted this country to be all that it could be.”