Opinion: County needs to reverse its denial of Luxco’s proposed Botland warehouses

Click image abpve to download a pdf of the Luxco lawsuit.

Nelson County Gazette

Sunday, Feb 4, 2024 — With the county facing a huge lawsuit from the parent company of Lux Co Distillers, I humbly recommend that Nelson Fiscal Court take a long hard look at the evidence against them and county government — and then make the correct decision to reverse their denial of Luxco’s warehouse project in Botland.

The evidence in the case is pretty damning — Nelson Fiscal Court approved resolutions regarding Industrial Revenue Bonds for the proposed warehouse project in January 2023. They also gave their promise to do everything in its power to make the project a success.

Later the same year — after the court approved the IRBs and resolutions in support of the project — the same court voted 3-2 to deny the very project they promised to support earlier in the year.

Luxco did not buy the Botland property until the warehouse project had the express support of Nelson Fiscal Court. After the IRBs were approved, the company spent about $2.49 million to buy the 182-acre property. Without the county’s support, the company would not have purchased that property.

After the county failed to approve the project, the company is left with 182 acres they cannot use — and without new warehouses, the company has to find other ways and locations to warehouse their future distilled spirits.

Luxco’s lawsuit also claims that fiscal court’s moratorium on distilled spirits warehouse projects did not follow established procedures. But the real issue here is fiscal court’s decision to withdraw its support.

PROJECT LOCATION. The company name and the project location were hush-hush details at the fiscal court meeting when the project was introduced.

I’ve reviewed the Gazette’s video of that meeting, and the name Luxco was never spoken. The company also had a code word for the name of the project.

Part of the reason for the secrecy was the fact the company had not purchased the property and did not want to make its location public at the time. However, according to the lawsuit, county officials were made aware of the intended location at a meeting before the new judge-executive and fiscal court took office. And apparently, there was an assumption that the information would be passed on to the next fiscal court.

From my conversations with several magistrates, its evident that at least several of them were not aware of the project location. At least two of them said they asked about the location at the January 2023 meeting but did not get an answer.

This may not make me very popular with my friends and family in Botland, but the county needs to live up to its obligations and reverse its decision to deny Luxco’s application for the zoning overlay of its Botland property.

Otherwise, the county is facing a protracted and potentially expensive lawsuit.

Judge-Executive Tim Hutchins has done a great job saving money and trimming the budget in the county’s operations. He and fiscal court should settle this lawsuit now and save the county’s taxpayers from paying thousands of dollars in legal fees and a potential damage award in the millions of dollars.


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