Clark County sets rules for wineries' operations

Hours of amplified music restricted; limits put on food

By Erik Hidle, Columbian staff writer

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Clark County commissioners approved language Tuesday updating limits on noise and food service at local wineries.

Commissioner Steve Stuart called the changes part of "an evolutionary process" in a county that's experiencing a burgeoning wine industry.

The changes update rules the commissioners adopted in 2010, which allowed wineries to open tasting rooms.

Over the years, some neighbors' patience waned as wineries worked to build business by hosting events, and offering live music and food.

In response, commissioners unanimously approved two major changes to the ordinance.

The first change puts a halt to amplified music between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. The intent, commissioners said, is to help alleviate the thumping of bass and loud sounds that neighbors have complained about at some local wineries.

Commissioners also approved language that states no interior seating will be allowed for food service, and that food cannot be cooked to order. The language does not stop wineries from serving food but is intended to keep eateries or taverns from popping up in the countryside.

A smaller change made to the ordinance says that 100 people constitute an "event," an important designation because the county allows only 50 events per winery per year.

Steve Syverson, who has had noise issues with the Rusty Grape Vineyard near his home in Battle Ground, spoke at the meeting to encourage commissioners to approve limiting amplified music.

Syverson spoke with The Columbian in February on the matter, saying winery activities hurt his quality of life.

Jeremy Brown, the owner of the Rusty Grape Vineyard, also spoke at Tuesday's meeting. He said he has been working with his neighbors to reduce the local impact.

Specifically, the winery is reducing the number of live events in an effort to establish a more relaxed community gathering place.

"Our biggest goal is to try and fit in with the countryside," Brown said.

Brown said the changes to regulate noise won't affect him because he is altering his business plan, but he did indicate other vintners may disagree with the county's new direction.

"You know, I think a lot of the wineries have built a business plan around (music)," Brown said. "I know local wineries here in the county have a concert series. … I think, probably, a lot of them would have a pretty big problem with that."

A final draft of the changes will be up for approval on commissioners' consent agenda at a July 2 meeting.

Erik Hidle: 360-735-4547; http://twitter.com/col_clarkgov;erik.hidle@columbian.com.