Update 7.16 - Action Needed on Proposed ZTA for Alcohol Production (ZTA 18-03) Take action by hearing on 7.20!
When MCA was made aware of a significant proposed zoning code change that would affect Montgomery County's nationally regarded Ag Reserve and all rural residential zones by broadening provisions for alcohol production facilities and associated large scale commercial event venues on as little as 5 acres... we brought broad community concerns and recommended amendments to Council members and staff. We offered ideas and sought discussion on how the uses might be reviewed and conditioned to ensure balance, safety and equity. Certainly, we thought, the bill's author, Hans Riemer and committee members would work to ensure that alcohol production/event venues be permitted in appropriate scale with family farms, rural communities, and other stakeholders. Right? Not so much as clearly evidenced prior to and at the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee (PHED) meeting, chaired by Nancy Floreen. The PHED Committee paid little or no heed to their own staff attorney's recommendations to properly scale this zoning provision.
With care, advancing new opportunities in both the Reserve and lower density rural residential communities can achieve economic, environmental and community/cultural benefits. The Master Plan for Agriculture and Open Space Preservation (AROS) was designed with flexibility, acknowledging the evolving nature of agriculture, allowing for revisions and additions. However, those changes must conform to the primary purpose of the plan, adhere to environmental protection goals, and be “consistent with historical character and community lifestyles in rural settlements.” AROS p. 71
Please click above to see details, including text of bills and staff reports. Though frustrated in our efforts thus far, we remain eager to work with the Council bill sponsors to help better this ZTA.
Your Email – Please personalize - Do you farm, buy farm goods, recreate, live in the areas affected? Share with others. Please send in emails by July 20 before next committee meeting! Your action is much appreciated!
Send to: Councilmember.Riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov
Subject line: ZTA 18-03 - Amendments Needed!
Dear PHED Committee Members and Councilmembers,
I support the continued careful stewardship of our County’s rural and agricultural land and communities. In keeping with that goal, I am writing to ask that you take the following action:
Amend ZTA 18-03 to address concerns that the zoning change support the goals of the County's master plan to protect agriculture, rural communities and natural resources. I support the amendments proposed by Montgomery Countryside Alliance and their partners which include requiring that the facilities be directly tied to agriculture on the property, operate in a scale in balance with other farming activities and rural communities and that road safety is maintained. Larger facilities should be afforded review under the County's conditional use approval process.
I support the collaborative efforts of Montgomery Countryside Alliance and partners in working toward legislative amendments that will ensure that zoning changes are supportive of our master plans, environmental protection, and will advance a vital and diverse agricultural and rural economy.
Let's not rush with zoning changes like this. Let's get this right!
<your name here>
Today's PHED Committee meeting... community comments were disregarded
(See MCA Testimony here)
The committee took up Riemer zoning text amendment to permit breweries/event facilities etc. in Reserve and in all rural residential zones. Councilmembers Riemer, Floreen and Leventhal were largely disinterested in concerns from rural community members regarding need to support Ag Reserve purpose/farming and needs to balance scale and impact of the facilities - citing instead that MC needs to be more like Loudoun County which has dropped even building use and occupancy safety requirements to promote the industry. (See Hearing Video here - agenda item starts at 25:41)
Action :Write the PHED Committee
(firstname.lastname@example.org, Councilmember.Riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov, George.Leventhal@montgomerycountymd.gov)
and copy Council Members (County.Council@montgomerycountymd.gov)
Email before July 20:
Tell them that:
- > Business and balance with rural community and farming must go hand in hand.
- > Small wineries and breweries as permitted uses are welcomed but large scale venues with big events need a close look see through the County's conditional use process.
- > That process will ensure that roads can safely carry the traffic, that sound and other effects will not upend other farms/properties use and enjoyment of their homes/land and that we support the purpose of the Reserve- the preservation of agriculture and open space.
Background on this here.
The committee (PHED) work on the ZTA has been delayed until July 9, after the primary election. The list of groups and individuals that have concerns and support refining amendments is growing and includes:
Sugarloaf Citizens' Association
West Montgomery Civic Association
Audubon Naturalist Society
League of Women Voters
The Friends of Ten Mile Creek
Sugarland Ethnohistory Project
Land and Nature Discoveries Inc.
Historic Medley District
Montgomery County Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions
St. Paul Community Church
Knight Kiplinger, Seneca
Barbara Hoover, Potomac
Pam Dubois, Darnestown
Joseph and Louisa McBride, Bethesda
Lauretta White, Poolesville
Anne Ambler, Wheaton
Mike Rubin, Capital Investments
Anne Davies, Boyds
Christina Nanof, Beallsville
MCA continues to work with local wineries, breweries, and other stakeholders to properly refine the ZTA. Doing so will ensure that the provision for the growth of the industry complies with master plan which calls for primary use of Reserve for farming and avoids conflict with other forms of agriculture, agritourism and communities' use and enjoyment of their properties.
Please contact us at email@example.com with questions or if you would like to join the chorus of voice asking that zoning changes take care.