Albemarle Planners Consider Capping Crowds for Events at Farm Br - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Albemarle Planners Consider Capping Crowds for Events at Farm Breweries

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Albemarle planners are considering regulations that would cap crowds for events at farms or farm breweries unless landowners get special permission from the county. It's creating a debate over property rights.

The state passed a mandate saying counties have to allow private property owners to hold events on their land. But they left the regulation of those events up to the localities.

Albemarle County already has rules for farm wineries. Now the debate is over how tightly the county should regulate other farm activities.

"They are all well-intentioned, but the effect sometimes is to create higher fences to jump over when a trot around the track is entirely adequate."

Charlotte Shelton's family owns Albemarle Cider Works in North Garden. She thinks regulation for farms shouldn't be any stricter than it is for wineries or cideries like her own.

“The issue I think is that sometimes we think that we can regulate for events that might happen, and when we start doing that, sometimes there's collateral damage in terms of putting in requirements that probably aren't even necessary,” said Shelton.

Currently, the cut off for an event at wineries is 200 people before they need to apply for a special use permit from the county. Supervisor Ann Mallek says it's about protecting land owners' rights.

“That is a very important element for Albemarle County is that our neighbors do have the right to say something about a big impact activity which is next door,” said Mallek.

Mallek says it's also a safety issue, because if an event gets out of hand, emergency services may be out of reach.

"Everybody talks about property rights, but what about the property rights of the person who lives next door, or the person who lives down the road who an ambulance can't get to because the road is blocked,” stated Mallek.

But Shelton says she's never had a problem with events at farm wineries nearby.

“There's a community of things here but I don't think any of these have added any particular burden of any description to the neighborhood,” said Shelton.

In previous work sessions, proposals have been brought up to limit capacity to 50 people. Others want to see it match the 200 that wineries get.

The county also needs to regulate noise at these events. The planning commission's public hearing starts at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

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