No opposition voiced on Rock Hall microbrewery proposal

This former garage on state Route 20 just outside of Rock Hall could become a microbrewery, tavern and bottle shop if the Kent County Commissioners sign off on a zoning text amendment that was subject to a public hearing Tuesday, Aug. 11.

CHESTERTOWN — The Kent County Commissioners held a public hearing Tuesday, Aug. 11 on a zoning code change that could allow a microbrewery to open just outside Rock Hall

With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the actual commissioners meeting was closed to the public. Those who wished to speak during the public hearing were able to call in.

The bill under consideration Aug. 11 would allow microbreweries in the Crossroads Commercial Zoning District. It has received a favorable recommendation from the Kent County Planning Commission.

Richard Carter requested the zoning text amendment to allow him to open a microbrewery and tavern at 5914 Rock Hall Road, the old automotive garage is on the right of state Route 20 as drivers approach Rock Hall.

“Our primary mission with this is tourism. We will be brewing relatively small amounts of beer,” Carter said at the Aug. 11 hearing. “But more importantly, we’ll be providing products solely from other beverage manufacturers on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.”

In a supporting letter listing the business name Delmarva Craft, Carter wrote that he plans to repurpose the existing building on Rock Hall Road, a portion of which would include a bottle shop and tasting room. The microbrewery to be established on site would be a separate business.

“In addition to this, we are planning to provide bus tours to local craft beverage companies, as well as historic sites, agricultural sites and other artisan venues,” Carter’s letter states.

No one from the public spoke on the bill at the hearing other than Carter.

County Attorney Tom Yeager said microbreweries likely are not currently listed as an allowable use because the zoning ordinance was written more than 10 years ago, before such operations were viewed as viable businesses.

Rob Tracey, community planner for the Department of Planning, Housing and Zoning, said microbreweries are a permitted use in the Commercial Zoning District.

He said a notable difference from the Commercial Zoning District is that the Crossroads Commercial Districts appear to be located primarily in highway areas. In this case, the property is located on state Route 20.

Tracey said the statement of intent for the Crossroads Commercial District is to provide for a broad range of commercial activities serving local communities.

There was no vote taken on the proposed zoning text amendment. The record remains open through noon Friday, Aug. 14. Public comment may be submitted to the Kent County Commissioners, 400 High St., Chestertown, MD 21620 or kent county@kentgov.org.

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