Nelson Fiscal Court approves first reading of bourbon rickhouse zoning changes

Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Friday, June 23, 2023 — In a special-called meeting Friday morning, Nelson Fiscal Court approved first reading of zoning regulations regarding the placement and construction of distilled spirits warehouses in Nelson County.


The changes remove what is often referred to as “the 2015 100-acre rule” that added whiskey warehouses as a permitted use on agriculturally zoned property of at least 100 acres.

The 2015 rule change allowed distilleries to build warehouses on 100 acres or more without a public hearing or notification of adjoining property owners. The ordinance approved Friday will change all that.

The changes will add a new “planned unit development” (PUD) designation within the agricultural zoning regulations expressly for the construction of distilled spirits warehouses.

The new PUD designation will require a public hearing before the joint city-county planning commission.

All applicants are required to meet with the planning commission staff prior to submitting plans for a warehouse project.

Warehouses that are constructed must be of the traditional rack type, no larger than 40,000 square feet in size and not more than 60 feet tall.

The new regulations will require a minimum of a 200-foot setback from property lines. Warehouses cannot be built closer than 400 feet to an existing residence. The new rules will require applicants to meet with adjoining property owners prior to filing their formal application.

The regs will require a landscaping plan for road frontage, and require at least 25 percent of the property to remain for agricultural uses or green space.

A new requirement added with this change means that applicants will also need to have a study to determine that the roadway serving the development is adequate prior to filing their application.

The court voted 4-0 to approve the revised ordinance. Magistrate Keith Metcalfe was absent.

Nelson County Judge-Executive Tim Hutchins said that the court has kept its promise to expedite the rule changes.

In May, the court approved a “pause” on zoning applications related to whiskey warehouse projects.

The initial plan was for a 90-day pause, but feedback from local industry leaders prompted shortening the time from to 30 days, with a possible 30-day extension.

The changes require a second reading and the court’s final OK before they can become effective.

NEXT UP. Hutchins said he expects final approval of the changes to take place at the court’s special meeting on July 10, 2023.


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