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Supervisors delay decision on distillery due to split vote

Supervisors delay decision on distillery due to split vote


The Franklin County Board of Supervisors delayed a decision that would allow a distillery store in Westlake after members were unable to break a 3-3 tie Tuesday.

The proposed distillery store and tasting room would be in a retail space at Westlake Towne Center. Customers would be allowed a variety of cocktails or shots at the store, but would be limited to only 3 ounces of alcohol per person.

The application was to modify zoning on the property to allow for a distillery and tasting room. The space is zoned planned commercial development, which does not allow for the business.

Boone District representative Ronnie Thompson said the store had the potential to be detrimental to the county. He questioned if the store would go against the neighboring family-oriented businesses in Westlake Towne Center.

“It’s concerning to me,” Thompson said. “I don’t see a lot of difference in a tasting room and a bar.”

Union Hall District supervisor Tommy Cundiff wanted to know how the store would be able to limit customers from returning multiple times for tastings each day. Applicant Laura Turner said the store would follow Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control guidelines, and the operation would be inspected regularly.

Cundiff said some distillery customers may try to go against the rules and come multiple times in a day. “It’s going to be hard to police, and I just can’t understand how your going to police it,” he said.

Other supervisors were more favorable to the proposed tasting room. Blackwater District representative Ronald Mitchell made the motion to approve the rezoning request. He was joined by Gills Creek District representative Lorie Smith and Rocky Mount District representative Mike Carter in voting to approve the rezoning. Thompson, Cundiff and Snow Creek District representative Leland Mitchell all voted to deny the request.

The vote tied 3-3 with Blue Ridge District representative Tim Tatum absent for the vote. He left the meeting early on Tuesday.

Following the split, Smith moved to delay a decision until next month to allow Tatum to be the deciding vote. That vote was approved 6-0 with one absent.

Supervisors also delayed a vote that would allow the owners of Southlake Spa and Salt Room in Union Hall to hold yoga classes in a field located next to the business. Jeffrey and Lori Dupier moved the spa’s yoga classes outdoors to an adjacent field to the business they also own when the pandemic hit.

The outdoor yoga classes were not allowed on the property, which is zoned R1. That led the Dupiers to go to the Franklin County Planning Commission in December with a request to change the property from R1 to A1 to allow the classes.

When neighbors of the property opposed the rezoning request, the Dupiers decided to remove the application to rezone the property and instead request a special-use permit to allow for a private club on the property that would allow yoga.

Lori Dupier said obtaining a special-use permit for a private club was the only option they could find that would allow yoga on the R1 property without rezoning. She said moving the yoga outdoors was only being discussed because of current state restrictions on the size of indoor classes due to the pandemic.

Neighbors around the property came out in opposition to the special-use permit on Tuesday. They were concerned that allowing a commercial business on the property could have a negative impact on the neighborhood.

Cundiff asked to table a vote on the special-use permit until next month to allow time to get more information about the proposal. He questioned if yoga classes would be allowed on any part of the 32-acre property or be limited to a certain area, which could have less of an impact on neighbors.

Supervisors voted 6-0-1 to table the meeting to March.

A proposal for a short-term rental on Lakemount Drive in Moneta was denied by supervisors on Tuesday. The lakefront property was purchased by four North Carolina families in October.

Neighbors of the Overlook subdivision, which is located next to the property, opposed the short-term rental.

Neighbors questioned the safety of allowing short-term rentals in the small cove where the home’s dock is located. Tony Warner, who has a dock 40 feet away from the home, said he was concerned boaters at the short-term rental may not be able to see swimmers in the narrow cove.

“I have numerous concerns about approving this,” Smith said.

Smith moved to deny the request, which was approved 6-0-1.

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