Washington County board goes back to Plan A for winery regulation
Washington County commissioners have agreed to go back to Plan A with new regulations affecting some activities at county wineries.
Board Chairman Andy Duyck said the action will save time and money, because as a result, the Oregon Winegrowers Association will withdraw a challenge pending before the state Land Use Board of Appeals.
Commissioners took their initial step Tuesday (Aug. 15), and scheduled public hearings Sept. 5 and 26.
The dispute was over whether the county can regulate hours of events and number of attendees as conditional uses for tasting rooms. The county can do so for agritourism and other commercial events at wineries under a 2013 state law.
It was part of a county ordinance, most of which was not controversial, to carry out the law. Senate Bill 841 gives wineries — there are more than 30 of them in the Tualatin Valley — wide latitude to hold events if they are related to sales or promotions of wine.
After the ordinance was carried over from last year, when the dispute remained unresolved, the county planning staff recommended that the county's general authority to regulate health and safety made it unnecessary to add conditions for tasting rooms and other outright permitted uses at wineries.
Among such conditions are limits on event hours and the number of attendees, and traffic management, sanitation and solid waste.
Dropping such added authority was also the position of the Oregon Winegrowers Association, which negotiated the 2013 legislation.
But the commissioners retained the authority to add conditions for outright permitted uses of wineries when they adopted the ordinance March 7. The action prompted the Oregon Winegrowers Association to appeal it to the state Land Use Board of Appeals.
Under what is called a voluntary remand, the county will drop the authority to add conditions and the winegrowers will withdraw their appeal from the state board.
Duyck said a change in the state's own interpretation of the 2013 law prompted the entire shift.
Under that law, Willamette Valley wineries — except those designated as large wineries that produce more than 150,000 gallons annually — may schedule up to six days of other types of events not focused on wine under five-year renewable licenses from counties or cities. Events in this category are not considered "land use actions" subject to the state Land Use Board of Appeals.
These smaller wineries may hold between 7 and 18 days of other types of events under five-year permits, which counties or cities can attach conditions to.
Under the proposed ordinance, these wineries can provide only for temporary kitchen facilities.
Large wineries are subject to different regulations under a 2011 law allowing up to 25 days of events.