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>