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Regulation of farm wineries/breweries/distilleries - I want your legal opinions!

gtpeach

Cyburbian
Messages
1,993
Points
16
Calling all novice legal experts!

We're discussing farm breweries/wineries/distilleries in a meeting with several rural localities today. One of the issues that I experienced in my most recent localities was challenges with treating the waste from these facilities. The effluent produced as a by-product of the processing is high in organic materials, solid particles, and has a high pH level that most municipal systems can't handle. In addition, for those producers that aren't on a municipal system, their septic systems, which were designed specifically to accommodate this kind of waste, have been failing.

The state code basically states that for farm wineries/breweries/ distilleries licensed as such by ABC, no locality can regulate the production and harvesting of agricultural products used for these purposes, nor the manufacturing of wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages.

Sooo... what's a locality to do if they want to get in front of this issue? My concern is that if a locality wants to try to make some regulation that states that they have to have an agreement in place for a pump and haul plan or maybe require some sort of bond/surety for a private treatment system prior to issuing zoning permits for the business (you know, to get out ahead of the problem), that would be considered regulating the manufacturing.

Thoughts?
 

NHPlanner

Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,879
Points
38
My community is home to both a macrobrewery (AB-Inbev) and a local nano brewery. We don't have much from a zoning perspective, other that having breweries as a permitted use in commercial or industrial districts.

You are correct that BOD is the primary issue from a wastewater perspective. For our community, part of the requirements for sewer connections is pre-treatment on-site before the wastewater stream enters the municipal system. I don't have the specifics, but if you're interested in more info, you can PM me and I can give you contact info for our wastewater folks.
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
13,744
Points
39
Kansas allowed ag exemptions for everything. So we didn't regulate wineries. The problems that came up:
1. Trash from tourists littering the county roads and of course people lived nearby.
2. Tourists randomly stopping to recycle their wine in someone's field.
3. Giant wedding and other parties at the party barn. Should that be a commercial building or not? Kansas said no.
4. Outdoor entertainment.

If they're dealing with septic tanks they may be able to reduce some of the problems with a two tank system. The first one should catch a good amount of the solids and the second catches the rest. Obviously they would need to pump those tanks on a regular basis.
 

gtpeach

Cyburbian
Messages
1,993
Points
16
Kansas allowed ag exemptions for everything. So we didn't regulate wineries. The problems that came up:
1. Trash from tourists littering the county roads and of course people lived nearby.
2. Tourists randomly stopping to recycle their wine in someone's field.
3. Giant wedding and other parties at the party barn. Should that be a commercial building or not? Kansas said no.
4. Outdoor entertainment.

If they're dealing with septic tanks they may be able to reduce some of the problems with a two tank system. The first one should catch a good amount of the solids and the second catches the rest. Obviously they would need to pump those tanks on a regular basis.
Right. The issue is just whether or not localities can regulate it. The issue seems to be more prominent with breweries than with wineries (perhaps because wineries typically are on larger parcels so can accommodate alternative systems more easily?). The issue is that these are agricultural operations, so there are no connections to municipal services. They'll have to pump and haul to a municipality that can handle that level of waste, which is not every municipal system. The ones that had on-site treatment systems engineers specifically to accommodate their waste have experienced failures.
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
13,744
Points
39
My experience with AG exemptions is that they are exempt from zoning. Kansas made it specific that they are exempt from building code as well. Mileage may vary on that one. I've never seen one exempt from environmental health codes. If you have a local health department or whoever handles the septic permitting, make them handle it. If they can't try to enlist the state for help. Kansas environmental health kind of sucked and my inspectors regularly had to instruct the state on what is right. So hopefully you have a better experience with that. My experience is that most septic systems fail due to capacity problems more than anything else.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
17,689
Points
57
New York State law covers farm wineries and microwineries (NY ABC §76, -A, -B, -C, -D, -F), farm breweries (NY ABC §51-A), farm cideries (NY ABC §58-C), and farm distilleries (NY ABC §61.2 C), and related tasting rooms. Most interpretations I've heard consider them an agritourism use (NY AGM §301.4).

A local brewery got into some trouble for industrial wastewater violations, and is now building a pre-treatment system. However, that wasn't a zoning issue.
 
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