Madore to revisit wineries' permits

At least one business was surprised by the effects of July decisions

By Erik Hidle, Columbian staff writer

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It appears Clark County commissioners will hold another summit with local vintners regarding what rules and regulations the businesses must follow as the county's wine industry continues to blossom.

Last year, commissioners spent months crafting rules around the burgeoning industry. And through the process, several winery owners participated in crafting the new rules.

The rules mostly set standards for noise in rural areas and defined what types of food service is allowed at the venues.

But the decisions made in July also codified costs for winery permits. A permit for a winery that has its own roadway is $228. If the winery shares a private roadway with others, that cost balloons to $2,284 due to mitigation issues.

But it appears the message has filtered through slowly.

Last week, Moulton Falls Winery posted on its Facebook page that it believed it was being forced out of business.

"We received a notice from the county today that as of Sunday, Jan. 5, we will be forced to close along with a handful of other rural wineries," the post

states. "Please enjoy your new year. Come out and show your support for the local wineries this weekend; it probably will be our last."

The post received an outpouring of support from Facebook members, but Clark County officials say the winery isn't in imminent danger of closing.

"What we provided was a notice and order asking that they come in between now and early January and begin their permit process," said Marty Snell, the county's director of community development. "These are wineries that are openly inviting the public, and yet they have no permits and no approvals. We want to work with wineries so that come May they've applied for their winery permit."

Snell said Moulton Falls Winery is one recipient of five letters he sent out requesting the businesses apply for the proper permits for the wineries and for buildings on the properties.

A message left for Moulton Falls Winery was not returned as of press time.

Also looking to work with the wineries that received the letters is Clark County Commissioner David Madore.

On Thursday night, Madore posted on his Facebook page that wineries "represent an important emerging industry for Clark County."

"Rather than blowing them out of the water, we will focus on making our customers and businesses successful," Madore wrote. "I'm on it. A little backpedaling is in order, and better communications are in the works to fix this. I've scheduled a joint meeting with the affected wineries and staff to help them to get 'er done."