Brouhaha between winery, P&Z coming to a head

October 17, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

A legal battle is brewing between Chateau du Vieux Corbeau, the Old Crow Inn's winery, and the Danville-Boyle County Planning and Zoning Commission.

P&Z says that Andre Brousseau, who owns the winery, farm and bed-and-breakfast at Old Crow Inn, is running a retail business in a residential zone. Brousseau says he is not selling anything that P&Z didn't give him permission to sell, including beer, seven years ago.

The P&Z Commission has instructed its attorney to file a lawsuit against the Brousseaus, but the suit hadn't been filed as of Friday.

Brousseau had been selling other Kentucky wines, crafts, and more recently, beer, at the winery, but it wasn't until he started to build a storage shed several months ago that P&Z took issue with the sales.


The commission put a stop-work order on the shed after the concrete footers had been laid. Brousseau filed an appeal, and the Board of Adjustments will hear the case at 10 a.m. Thursday at city hall.

P&Z Executive Director Paula Bary said that when she looked at the building permit she reviewed the entire property, and that's when she discovered the zoning violation.

In the meantime, beer and wine sales at the winery continue. On Saturday afternoon, the parking lot was full and a healthy stream of customers were coming and going, most of them leaving with a container of beer in hand.

Traffic was slow before beer sales

When the only things sold by the winery were wine and crafts, traffic was slow. The Brousseau's enologist and daughter, Dominique, could be found on most days sitting behind the counter reading a book. But the winery is the only place in Boyle and most other surrounding counties where packaged beer can be purchased.

The beer sales have brought more wine sales, too. Brousseau said he has been able to convince devout beer drinkers to dabble in wines. His wine sales have quadrupled since he received his malt beverage license from the state in May. The state Alcoholic Beverage Control granted him a malt beverage license - which allows sales of beer and other flavored, low-alcohol drinks marketed by Smirnoff, Barcardi and others - because he operates a winery, farm and a bed-and-breakfast that attract tourists.

"I'm tickled about the number of people that come here to buy a case of beer and a bottle of wine," he said.

The Brousseaus recently decided to buy an identification checker hooked to an on-line database so they can more quickly and accurately check IDs.

"Everyone gets carded," said Linda Brousseau, Andre's wife. "We are trying to do the best we can because I'm a mother and I know how kids can test the limits."

There is a sign on front of the building letting people know that if they don't have valid identification they won't be buying alcohol there.

Linda Brousseau has even checked the ID of an 85-year-old man.

On Tuesday, as a salesperson demonstrated ID checking equipment, there was a steady flow of people coming in to buy beer. But, the P&Z battle isn't just about beer.

It's about whether the winery can sell beer, wine not made there and crafts at their farm because it is located in a GR-A, a general residential zone. Usually property in GR-A is reserved for single family homes.

Brousseau only needed a conditional use permit to open the businesses because part of his property is zoned GR-A. The front part of the property - stretching 260 feet from Stanford Road - is zoned highway commercial. But the winery building is about 300 feet from the road, Linda Brousseau said. If it were 40 feet closer, there would be no issue with P&Z, Bary said

Conditions of permit

In 1997 when the Brousseaus were granted their conditional use permit, the motion to approve it was pretty specific what would be allowed:

* Sale of agricultural and craft products.

* A bed-and-breakfast.

* Pottery and craft studio.

* Educational tours of building and grounds.

* Workshops on herbs, nutrition and crafts.

Andre Brousseau said beer counts as an agricultural product because it is made from yeast and grains. P&Z's Bary said that canned goods are technically agricultural products, too, but to sell them would be considered a retail endeavor, not an agricultural one, and it couldn't be done in a residential area. She said the same goes for beer.

Bary said that if the Brousseaus want to continue to sell things that aren't made on the farm property then the business would need to go before the Board of Adjustments. She said she believes the current business has grown beyond the vision that the Board of Adjustments had when it granted the conditional use permit seven years ago.

The Brousseaus maintain that they are a winery first and that they aren't doing anything on their farm that isn't done at every other winery farm enterprise in the state.

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