• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Bluegrass Distillers to open distillery in Midway

A conditional-use permit was approved Monday that will allow Bluegrass Distillers to move forward with its plans to open a distillery and tourist destination in Midway. Sam Rock of Bluegrass Distillers told the Board of Adjustment (BOA) during a public hearing that a distillery use is consistent with the ordinance regulating the A-1 (agriculture) zone “because it is truly an agricultural processing plant.” People visiting the distillery will see the entire process from growing corn on the farm to distilling and finally housing the bourbon whiskey in barrel warehouses, Rock said. The historic main residence, a smaller house and existing barns (which are on the National Register of Historic Places) as well as new structures will be used in the distillery operation, according to the application for the permit. “Not only will we be showcasing this beautiful land and the house and talking about the history of the families and how they supported themselves through the use of the land … but also how we’re bringing that to life …,” said Rock. “It’s truly going to be a great use of the land and a fantastic tourist destination,” he added. The Lexington-based Bluegrass Distillers, LLC has an option to purchase the front 61.67 acres at 158 West Leestown Road from Elkwood Farm, LLC.  The Mitchell family has owned the farm since the late-1930s and its main residence was built in 1835, according to a staff report given to BOA members. The report noted that 20.5 acres is zoned agriculture (A-1), which necessitated a conditional-use permit. The remaining 41.5 acres is zoned I-1 (light industrial). Rock said it wouldn’t be a problem to locate the barrel warehouse on the land zoned for industrial uses. When asked about how much bourbon whiskey will be produced, he said perhaps 1,000 to 2,000 barrels a year initially. He noted Bluegrass Distillers, which has been in business since 2013, currently produces 12 barrels “on a good month … So this is a major ramp-up for us.” Courtney Roberts and Lucas Witt of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority voiced their support for the project. “We’ve been very excited to see this come to fruition,” said Roberts, EDA vice chair. “It’s just an exciting use.” Witt, interim executive director of EDA, said there will be significant investment and new job growth in an industry that Woodford County has led the country in for a long time. In September, Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift told the council the distillery will employ 18 people. Before Bluegrass Distillers can move forward with its plans to develop a distillery and tourist destination at 158 West Leestown Road, the Planning Commission must approve a development plan and construction plans must also be approved. The proposed distillery will be located on property at the northeast corner of I-64, West Leestown Road and Ky. 341 (Georgetown Road), according to the BOA staff report. Downtown hotel permit A conditional-use permit was unanimously approved that allows Eric Carrico to operate a hotel/motel on the second and third floors of the historic building (known as the old Woodford Hotel, built in 1800) at 108, 110 and 112 North Main Street in downtown Versailles. Carrico, who intends to purchase the property from owner John Hall after getting approved for the permit, said he and his wife, who live in Louisville, have spent a lot of time visiting Versailles. He said offering short-term rental apartments in the heart of downtown will give people “a central place” to stay while visiting local distilleries, other tourist attractions and attending races at Keeneland. The eight apartment units will have a maximum of 32 occupants, according to the staff report given to BOA members. Two offices, a photography studio and two beauty salons are located in the first-floor commercial spaces of the building, the staff report stated. Coffee shop permit The BOA approved a conditional-use permit for a coffee shop drive-thru at 120 A.P. Indy Lane. The .85-acre lot is located in the Equestrian Park commercial development on Lexington Street (former Woodford County Middle School property) near downtown Versailles. The lot, which is currently vacant, is split-zoned, so a permit was necessary because the drive-thru will be partially located in the B-1 (neighborhood business) district. The building proposed on the lot will have two leased spaces so another, unnamed business can also locate there, project architect Jeff Owens told the BOA. Bed & Breakfast The BOA unanimously approved a conditional-use permit allowing Franklin T. and Mary E. Lassiter to operate a bed and breakfast/inn, with two guest rooms as a vacation rental, at 534 Shady Lane near Midway. A long-term renter living in a nearby residence on the property will serve as the owner’s agent to meet a condition for operating a B&B, Mary Lassiter told the BOA.

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