Hutchins defends move to review, update bourbon warehouse zoning regulations

To the Editor and the Citizens of Nelson County:

The fiscal court meeting on Tuesday evening revealed a significant disconnect between our community and the bourbon industry. As Judge-Executive, I campaigned on the belief that our role is to be the voice of the people who elected us and to be transparent with county residents. Therefore, I want to explain in detail what the 90-day moratorium is, isn’t, and why it is necessary.


Living near distillery warehouses in Nelson County has led to significant negative consequences for residents. The release of black residue from these facilities causes unsightly and damage to local residents’ properties.

Homeowners must spend significant amounts of money on maintenance to remove the black soot and preserve their property’s appearance and value. I have heard this sentiment time and time again.

This presents potentially an ethical, legal, and moral dilemma. It is not justifiable for any business to profit at the cost of damaging another person’s property. It is unfair to burden property owners with the responsibility of cleaning up without giving them a chance for public input and discussion. Unfortunately, distilleries currently require no approval from the fiscal court or planning and zoning, giving no opportunity for residents to voice their views and facts about warehouse construction, so long as it is located on a 100-acre tract. No other business or industry in Nelson County can do this.

James Madison once stated that “Government is instituted to protect the property of every sort.” This declaration highlights the significance of property rights and serves as a call-to-action for our local government to take measures to safeguard them.

We need a proactive approach from the fiscal court. It is necessary to review planning and zoning regulations to protect taxpayers’ investments from an industry that seems more and more unwilling to contribute to the community.

The objective of this review process is not to complicate the lives of property owners. Instead, it should focus on safeguarding farmland and private property and providing citizens with the right of public input and oversight. The fiscal court should not be focused on tightening regulations, but rather review them to ensure all citizens have a voice through public hearings, in which they can participate in what happens in our community and their property rights.

It is time for our local government to fulfill its responsibility in protecting property rights for all citizens fairly and equally. We must provide public oversight and input to ensure that the interests of all stakeholders are considered and respected in the decision-making process.

I was elected by the citizens and not the bourbon industry. I feel the citizens deserve this change. I have and will always support industries providing jobs to our county. I will, however, stand firm to ensure each citizen can be heard.

Tim Hutchins
NC Judge-Executive

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