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Zoning Amendments Would Allow Distilleries And Spirit Warehouses

Zoning Commission Recommends Historic District Expansion

Barrels of Woodford Reserve bourbon age in a rickhouse at the Woodford Reserve distillery in Versailles circa 2013. Photo: Ken Thomas via Wikimedia Commons.

Robert Moore
Herald Staff

The Harrodsburg-Mercer County Joint Planning and Zoning Commission has recommended approval of a text amendments which would allow Harrodsburg homeowners to apply to have their properties included in the city’s historical district and could possibly allow distilleries and spirit warehouses in the city and county.

At their regular meeting on Monday, Feb. 27, the planning and zoning commission held a public hearing to discuss three text amendments. The first would amend the “H” zoning district to allow for historic preservation overlays.

The Harrodsburg Architectural Preservation Commission is working with the city to become a certified local government. Helen Dedman, a member of the preservation commission, Dedman said if Harrodsburg regains its status as a certified local government, it would open opportunities for grants. She said the verbiage for the text amendment was requested by the Kentucky Heritage Council. The actual ordinance dated back to the 1980s, she said.

“We can save our historic heritage,” Dedman said.

Shawn Moore, executive director of planning and zoning, said currently there are two heritage Historic districts in Harrodsburg, Morgans Row and Old Fort Harrod State Park. Most of downtown Harrodsburg is already part of a historical district.

If the text amendment is approved by the Harrodsburg City Commission, it would allow owners to petition for their properties to be placed on a historic overlay. The planning and zoning commission would conduct public hearings when someone requested to join the historic district, then issue a written recommendation to the preservation commission.

“We’re not actually changing the zone,” Moore said. He also said the planning and zoning commission would also not be responsible for enforcing the ordinance.

Commissioner Jonathan Elliott asked if there was a way out for those who buy historic properties.

“Probably not,” Dedman said.

Commissioner Jerry Catlett asked what would happen if there was a fire that destroyed a historic property.

“That’s happened twice,” Dedman said. “We don’t want to lose the historic nature of Main Street. We would work with that owner to find the best way.”

“I am in favor of historic preservation, I just don’t want to do anything prohibitive,” Catlett said.

Moore noted entering the historic district overlay was voluntary. If a property owner elected not to rebuild a destroyed property, there was nothing they could do.

There was no other testimony. The planning and zoning  commission also held a public hearing on a proposed text amendment to allow for distilleries and distilled spirit storage buildings in certain zoning districts in the City of Harrodsburg.

“It would open up the opportunity for the city to open two different kinds of craft distilleries,” Moore said.

No one spoke at the public hearing. The planning and zoning  commission also held a public hearing on a similar text amendment to the county zoning ordinance. It would also amend article 10 in zoning ordinance concerning signage following a Supreme Court decision. The model ordinance was written by the Kentucky League of Cities.

“It will solve the problem of us being sued,” Moore said.

Gus Faeth spoke against the county ordinance changes.

“I don’t have any problem with that in the city,” Faeth said. In particular, he was opposed to allowing distilleries and storage facilities on land zoned for agriculture.

“It’s really not a cottage industry, it’s a real industry,” Faeth said. “I just don’t think it’s appropriate in the agricultural zones.”

Faeth said allowing distilleries and storage facilities on agricultural land “would be a bad road to go down.”

After closing the public hearing, the commissioners voted unanimously to recommend all three text amendments. It will be up to the Harrodsburg City Commission to decide whether or not to approve the historic district text amendment and distilleries and storage facilities in the city. The Mercer County Fiscal Court will decide whether or not to approve distilleries and storage facilities in the county.

The next meeting of the Harrodsburg-Mercer County Joint Planning and Zoning Commission will be Tuesday, March 14, at 5:30 p.m.

For the rest of the story, check out this week’s issue of the Harrodsburg Herald. Click here to subscribe.

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