P&Z files suit against Brousseaus

October 25, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

Danville-Boyle County Planning and Zoning Commission filed a lawsuit against Andre and Linda Brousseau, owners of the winery at Old Crow Inn, saying that they are illegally operating a winery, bed-and-breakfast, and craft and pottery studio on their property.

The lawsuit particularly asks the court to stop the Brousseaus from selling agriculture and craft products not made on the property, including hot cases of beer.

The suit was filed Wednesday in Boyle Circuit Court.

The Inn is on land that has been zoned R-1, low density residential, which is generally reserved for one-family houses.

The lawsuit asks that the Brousseaus stop all activity not allowed in an R-1 zone or not allowed by the conditional use permit issued in 1997.

If the property were not zoned R-1 then the Brousseaus would be allowed to sell whatever they wanted, P&Z executive director Paula Bary has said. The front part of the Brousseaus property is zoned highway commercial, but the winery building is 40-feet shy of that zone and sits in R-1. As such, they need a conditional use permit.


The Brousseaus conditional use permit expired Feb. 8, 2001. P&Z claims that the Brousseaus' business has grown beyond what was approved in 1997.

When the Brousseaus started to build a storage building on their property this summer, they asked P&Z for a building permit. P&Z wrote the Brousseaus to deny the permit and told them that they were not allowed to sell alcohol or crafts that were not made on the property.

The Brousseaus did not appeal, but started to build the building. P&Z issued a stop-work order in August. The Brousseaus appealed the stop-work order. The lawsuit says because they did not appeal the building permit then they couldn't appeal the stop-work order.

The agency also claims that when the Brousseaus transferred their property into the name, The Elements Enterprises, a company still run by the Brousseaus, the permit was voided.

A lawsuit only represents one side of an issue.

The Brousseaus have said that they believe they are within their right to sell products not made on the organic farm there, including hot cases of beer. The conditional use permit given to the Brousseaus in 1997 does not specify where the products would be made.

The lawsuit says that the Brousseaus would sell products that were "ostensibly" or apparently, made at the farm.

The Brousseaus have disagreed. They say that selling products other than those made on the farm is a common practice among wineries in the state, and that their conditional use permit does not require the items to be made on the farm.

The Brousseaus do sell wine made on their farm at the winery, Chauteau du Vieux Corbeau, and Andre Brousseau has said that since they started selling beer there he has converted many beer-drinkers to wine-appreciators.

The winery was granted a malt beverage and retail licenses by the state Alcoholic Beverage Control in May.

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