Henry County passed its new winery ordinance at the June meeting. A McDonough property owner intends to be the first to apply under it.
The new ordinance allows for vineyards with wineries in unincorporated Henry County. Applicants must obtain a conditional use permit to operate.
Henry County Winery Ordinance
Growing grapes in a vineyard, most often muscadines in this area, is one form of farming. The new winery ordinance allows Henry County property owners to add wineries and wine tasting to their vineyards. This introduces a new form of agritourism close to home.
What is agritourism? Think Southern Belle Farm and Yule Forest, both in Henry County. They open up agricultural property to the public offering residents and families the chance to learn more about farming.
Work towards a new winery ordinance began last fall. After much discussion and several meetings, the board of commissioners unanimously approved it at their June 6 meeting. The ordinance requires vineyards with a winery to have at least 15 acres. From which, at least five acres must be used for growing and harvesting.
In addition, a winery must apply for and receive a conditional use permit. They must present at the zoning advisory board and a public hearing held to receive such permit. This review process will allow the county to consider each applicant on a case-by-case basis. Staff can also address any site-specific concerns at this time.
Some of the standards that any winery must follow include:
- operating hours can be between 10 am to 8 pm on Wednesday through Sunday,
- at least 500’ feet of lot width, with at least 175’ of road frontage,
- at least a 100’ setback from any buildings on adjacent residential properties, as well as a 100’ buffer on the property perimeter, and
- have a paved driveway if the driveway is within 175 feet of another structure on adjacent properties.
The winery ordinance is available to view on the Henry County website. Earlier discussions also had changes to the special event venue code section. The county ultimately left this section as is. Special event venues may hold up to five events per year.
Aaron Castellanos, a long-time McDonough resident and business owner, intends to be the first applicant under the new winery ordinance. His planned winery, Refinery Hill, is located at 500 Pullin Road in McDonough. Pullin Road is between Westridge Industrial and Simpson Mill Road, west of I-75.
Those interested in following updates about Refinery Hill can visit their Facebook page here.
Featured image shows muscadine vines. Stock photo.
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