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Investgating Zoning and Fed Laws before starting


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I am considering buying a piece of property near my current home, in Mount Airy, MD, to establish a distillery. It is a beautiful 24 acre piece of land with some very special features and history. This property has a 1 acre pond on it that is fed by a spring that is the headwaters of the Potapsco River. Additionally, this pond contains a concrete marker designating the only spot in Maryland where four counties meet, meaning this 24 acres is split among all four counties. The spring existed prior to the pond and has been used as a county marker for at least 2 counties since 1707. In 1776, it was designated as the marker for four counties for the first time; Frederick, Montgomery, Baltimore, and Anne Arundel. In 1851, it was updated to the current four counties; Frederick, Howard, Carroll, and Montgomery. A home was built in 1837 on what is now the Carroll County part of the property and still stands, making it almost 140 years old. An addition was put on the house in the 1950s to make it a bit more livable, by current standards. However, the place needs a serous renovation to meet current code and be considered a bit more modern, but there is a ton of historic charm to the place. It also has a large red barn on the Carroll property and the property is referred to as Four County Farm. The seller is asking $600k, but we are hopeful that we can get them down a bit. Estimated renovations are in the area of $100-$200k.

The property breaks down like this:
- Montgomery County, < .5 acres - zoned Rural Density Transfer (RDT)
- Howard County, approx. 10 acres - zoned Rural Conservation (RC)
- Frederick County, <3 acres - zoned Agricultural
- Carroll County, approx. 12 acres - zoned Conservation

I have spoken to Carrol County Zoning officials and per county zoning guidelines, which are rather broad, land zoned I-G (General Industrial District) can be used for the "Manufacture and bottling of alcoholic beverages". However, land zoned Conservation, as the Carroll County part is, can get an exception allowing a Winery. I cannot find anything in the Carroll County code that defines a distillery or whether distilling can take place at a winery. I also see that the Howard County code allows for wineries on land zoned Rural Conservation and that distilling can take place on a Farm Winery in the county.

I also understand that TTB code has a line in Title 26, Section 5601 stating that a "distilled spirits plant may not be located in a residence or in sheds, yards, or enclosures connected to a residence", but what if the distillery was located in a different county (Howard) that the residence (Carroll) on the same over all land? Is it possible to build a new building for the purposes of distilling, jut at a certain distance from the residence that the TTB would allow? I cannot get an answer to these questions as well.

Any direction, suggestions, or assistance anyone can provide would be greatly appreciated!!

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As long as the distillery is a separate building and a moderate distance away from the residence, you should be ok. But of course you should check with TTB and answers you get from them may differ.

Your 4 county situation gives you terrific options for forum-shopping, assuming you can potentially build your distillery in on all four parcels of the land. Talk to all of them and go with the one that is most enthusiastic and the least hassle.

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Go with the county that gives you the best deal and annex or deed a section that will house your distillery and all storage buildings. The deed will belong to you but is separate from all the others. TTB will be happy. Plus it protects the rest of the property from any unforeseen liabilities.

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