Nelson County taking more time to discuss bourbon moratorium

Nelson County taking more time to discuss bourbon moratorium
Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 11:16 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A few days after voting to possibly approve a moratorium on construction permits for distillers, Nelson County leaders are now slowing things down.

Last Friday, the Nelson County fiscal court took the first step in halting new building permits for the bourbon industry for 90 days.

Tuesday, the court met again and decided to take a longer look at things.

“The Bourbon Capital of the World.” Walking through Bardstown, many signs make that claim.

But with the proposed moratorium, many people feel that title might go away. So they came to the meeting to make their voices heard.

Etched into the brick in front of the Old Courthouse in Bardstown are distilleries in Kentucky.

One of those distilleries is Log Still, from right in Nelson County.

“I haven’t made a damn dime in four years, but yet you call us greedy,” Wally Dant from Log Still said. “Call me greedy.”

Dant was one of the few distillery representatives who spoke at the meeting.

He, like many others, is upset at the proposed 90 days moratorium, which would stop the approval of new building permits outside industrial zones for distilleries.

“We are disappointed and quite frankly shocked by the recent efforts to abruptly stop the many bourbon projects that are being planned,” Max Shapira from Heaven Hill said. “It leads me to wonder if indeed Bardstown wants to continue to be called the Bourbon capital of the world.”

Shapira is the Executive Director of Heaven Hill.

After the initial vote last Friday, Heaven Hill General Counsel Jessica Pendergrass told WAVE News she thinks the moratorium is retaliation for the repeal of the bourbon barrel tax.

She’s not the only one.

“It appears that y’all are mad and you want to get even,” said Mary Ann Brown.

Nelson County pointed to the loss of agricultural land and the burden on public infrastructure as a reason for the moratorium.

Judge Executive Tim Hutchins says he’s listening to the public’s concerns.

“There is a lot of concern of the black mold or the black soot, whatever you want to call it. I hear it every single day,” Hutchins said.

The court decided to rescind the first reading of the moratorium since they didn’t have public comments the first time.

But instead of doing it again, they decided to wait to have more discussions.

Shapira was happy with the court’s decision.

“I’m pretty sure everybody wants the bourbon industry to continue to thrive as we go forward in the future. And by working together we’ll get that done,” Shapira said.

The court plans to spend the upcoming weeks discussing it and making necessary changes before making any decisions.