Clark County to revisit rules on events, food at wineries

By Erik Hidle, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

Clark County commissioners are heading back to the drawing board on rules for events and food service at wineries.

Last week, they unanimously approved regulations on noise at winery events, halting amplified music at 7 p.m. Also approved was language limiting what food service was allowed at events and tasting rooms.

But as a matter of process, a final draft of the new ordinance was to be approved at Tuesday night's meeting. And before the vote, both Commissioner David Madore and Steve Stuart said they had received feedback indicating the rules need more tweaking.

"We want to encourage and welcome and do what we can to make sure the winery industry is well supported," Madore said, stating he hoped to still remain "neighbor-friendly" in the process.

Madore said he now believes the 7 p.m. time limit is too early. He also said there may be a better way to define food service limitations by implementing the county's health code.

After Madore spoke, Stuart stated simply: "I agree."

Commissioner Tom Mielke was absent from Tuesday's hearing; his mother died over the weekend.

The changes commissioners are to discuss are considered substantial in nature. That requires another public hearing, now scheduled for 10 a.m. July 23 at the Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St., Vancouver.

Stuart said he believes there is still a way to go between balancing the "rural quality of life" and the "rural enterprise" that citizens of Clark County have come to expect.

Commissioners did allow public comment on the matter despite not taking further action. In all, 19 spoke on the matter. Most implored the commissioners to be less stringent with the rules on food and noise.

Paul Montague, executive director of Identity Clark County, called the burgeoning wine industry a "jewel in our county."

"I'm glad to hear you're really carefully weighing any further restrictions on this industry," he said.

Jeff Carothers, mayor of Yacolt, said Moulton Falls Winery had been a boon for his city, and thanked commissioners for reconsidering the limitations on such industry.

"By them being there we've had a lot more people (in town)," Carothers said. "It helps those smaller businesses."

Two individuals remained steadfast in their hope that commissioners will consider the noise issues.

Steve Syverson, who has had noise issues with the Rusty Grape Vineyard near his home in Battle Ground, was one of the individuals and said noise remains a problem.

Jeremy Brown, the owner of the Rusty Grape Vineyard, also spoke, saying the winery is still doing its best to mitigate the sound at events.

Stuart said that type of clash is why commissioners are continuing to address the matter, saying the goal is to "hit that sweet spot" for business owners and residents.