2021 | Government

Changes made to proposal to help breweries, wineries, similar businesses

Bill would exempt agritourism businesses, farm alcohol production from some fees

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The County Council has tweaked a bill to help proposed breweries, wineries, vineyards, orchards and other related agritourism businesses open for business.

The proposal would allow those businesses to avoid paying a $2,000 plat recording fee before they get a building permit. The exemption would apply to many agricultural-zoned areas of the county.

Last month, the council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee approved the proposal and sent it to the full council.

Initially, it was intended for businesses only within the county’s agricultural reserve. But the council unanimously agreed on Tuesday to amend it to include businesses on unplatted parcels in any zone “used for Farm Alcohol Production or for Accessory Agricultural Education and Tourism.”

Council Member Craig Rice said the overall subdivision regulation amendment is needed to keep the county competitive with agritourism in other local jurisdictions.

“If we are serious about making sure we’re competitive in this market, and we’re promoting our agricultural reserve,” Rice said Tuesday, “if we’re serious about the fact that we want to see this as an economic development opportunity for so many, and make sure the ag reserve is not just some pretty place to visit, but it’s also a place where we see agricultural production … then we have to do things like this.”

A final vote on the proposal is scheduled for next Tuesday.

Steve Bohnel can be reached at steve.bohnel@bethesdamagazine.com