The Anne Arundel County Council voted Monday to allow breweries as conditional uses on farms within residential low density and R1 zones.
Councilwoman Amanda Fiedler, R-Arnold, introduced the legislation after concerns that wineries had more options than breweries.
The bill brings breweries to parity with wineries and gives farmers more options to expand their businesses rather than selling their property for development, Fiedler said.
“I’m thrilled to support agricultural growth and recognize that Anne Arundel still has working farmers who would like to remain and grow in a county that’s seen residential growth,” Fiedler said. “Land preservation is smart growth.”
Councilwoman Sarah Lacey, D-Jessup, was the sole vote against the legislation. County Executive is expected to sign the bill.
Lacey said she thought breweries in R1 districts should be special exceptions, which would require a public hearing before approval.
She couldn’t get the votes to change R1 from conditional to special exception so she voted against the full bill.
“I felt that the priority to protect residents is more important,” Lacey said.
Farmers opening a brewery will also have to meet some specific requirements. Farm breweries must be on at least 10 acres, and the farm has to produce at least one acre of grain, hops or other natural ingredients used in the beer.
Vehicle access to the farm must be provided on minor arterial or higher classification roads that are sufficient enough to prevent traffic congestion. A farm or brewery on R1 zoned land has to have a farm or agricultural use assessment from the state.
The brewery is deemed a conditional use because it falls outside the permitted use of the zoned property.
The council also approved Bill 22-19, which allows the Office of Emergency Management to use county libraries as heating and cooling centers during extreme weather. The vote was unanimous.
The bill also allows the Anne Arundel County Library Foundation to serve alcohol during events on library property. The foundation wants to use the libraries to hold fundraising events after hours in which alcohol is served, according to the county auditor’s note on the legislation.
The lease changes only allow the foundation to hold the fundraising events. Political fundraisers are not allowed. The library and vendors would have to acquire appropriate licenses before serving alcohol.
It also would allow alcohol to be sold — but not consumed — from beer and wine vendors during farmers market events.
In other business
Councilman Nathan Volke, R-Pasadena, withdrew his resolution calling on Pittman to provide requested budget information to the county auditor’s office.
Volke had grown concerned that the auditor’s request for information in February had not been met at that time.
The release of the county executive’s budget made the resolution moot, Volke said.
Monday’s meeting followed several days of hearings on Pittman’s first budget. The council is currently hearing testimony from department heads regarding the budget proposal.
Tuesday the council will discuss the proposed $333 million fiscal 2020 capital budget. That is about $45 million less than the current budget.
The capital budget contains the county’s construction and renovation projects. The operating budget — which handles the day-to-day funding of the county — increased from $1.6 billion to $1.7 billion.
Public hearings on the budget will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday within the council chambers.
Anyone wishing to speak about the budget — and the proposed tax and fee increases — can sign up starting at 6 p.m.