Residents of Adams Road feel a winery in the area hosting catered events would take away from the agricultural character of the neighborhood, while the business owners said they are promoting agritourism.
Donald Hughes, who requested the special-use permit so he could host events at 692 Adams Road, told Troup County Commissioners at Tuesday’s meeting that the new business is a family-owned winery.
“It’s the first effort for agritourism in Troup County,” Hughes said. “The special events venue will allow us to supplement our income, since we are a new business … We are in operation, but we have not opened the doors as of yet. We’re waiting for our first line of wine to come out, so this is a way to open the doors before then.”
Agritourism is a use for agricultural properties that promotes different uses at the location without impacting the agricultural area. Commissioners last year approved an ordinance allowing agritourism for agricultural businesses, like farms, to supplement their income.
The planning and zoning commission had recommended allowing the special use, but with conditions designed to minimize impact to neighbors. The events would be limited to 75 people, three events per month and only during designated hours.
“If we are limited by the board of commissioners, we’d be happy with 60 guests,” Hughes said. “We’ll be flexible.”
Reid Wallis, who lives near the winery, said he and other residents had no problem with the winery and thought it would be a good thing for the neighborhood, but were opposed to the special events use. Wallis said 10 of 13 residents, which excludes only Hughes and two residents whom he couldn’t get in touch with, have signed a petition opposing the move.
Wallis pointed to traffic being the main factor in the opposition. Adams Road residents have had an ongoing engagement with the county over enforcement of speeding on the road, zoned at 45 mph, after it became a popular cut-through road for commuters going to the Kia Motors Manufacturing America site in West Point. During shift-change hours, traffic is heavy and there have been many vehicles that speed dangerously down the road, residents have said.
Hunter Searcy, another Adams Road resident who spoke against the special events use, also said the additional traffic would be a problem.
“I have no complaint for wine tasting … but any more congestion or cars on Adams Road is something that all of us didn’t invest in our property to put up with,” he said.
John Hughes, Donald Hughes’ cousin that also works at the winery, said they were in support of lowering the speed limit on the road and planned to contact the new sheriff, once he takes office, to ensure enforcement of the speed limit. He said that they also would make sure events were planned so that they would not be starting or ending during peak traffic hours.
Wallis asked who would “police” the special conditions for the business. If more than 75 guests show up, or an event lasts past the designated hour, who is responsible for enforcing the conditions, he asked.
“Who is going to count the number cars that go to these events,” Wallis said. “I’m not a policeman … who is going to tell Mr. Hughes that he is over the closing time? … You and the sheriff are not going to want to be bothered with this kind of thing.”
John Hughes said the business operators would make sure to stick to the conditions given by the County Commission.
Commissioners will vote on whether to approve the special-use permit at the next commission meeting, set for Dec. 4.
In other business, commissioners:
•Approved extending to 2015 an agreement for a tax-allocation district, or TAD, project along Interstate 85 between Whitesville and Hamilton roads that is planned for multiple shops and businesses. Work on the development was originally slated to begin in 2010, but was pushed back, but County Manager Tod Tentler said there “has been a lot of action on the property, but no financing yet.” Being in a TAD allows the property’s tax to stay frozen for a set number of years.
•Approved an agreement with the city of West Point to house municipal inmates at the county jail for $45 per day plus medical expenses.
•Approved requesting a $200,000 Georgia Department of Community Affairs’ Community Home Investment Program, or CHIP, grant with $30,000 in matching funds for building low-income housing in the unincorporated county area. County Commission Chairman Ricky Wolfe, executive director of DASH for LaGrange Inc., which would use the grant funds, recused himself from the decision.
•Approved a list of roads – about 10 miles’ worth – to be paved using the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant, or LMIG, which would provide $480,411.63 in state funds.