Farmers hoping to open wineries on their property could soon get a big boost with a County Council bill that would make it easier for farms to open vineyards without adhering to mandated construction codes.
In a new bill co-sponsored by County Councilmen Jerry Walker (R-7th District) and Dick Ladd (R-5th District), buildings for farm wineries would be exempt from permit requirements of the county’s Construction Code.
Polly Pittman and her husband Tom Croghan together run the county’s largest family farm in Davidsonville—the 550-acre Dodon Farm.
In an interview with The Baltimore Sun, Pittman said the couple realized relying on crops alone for income would not pay the bills. They then began pursuing avenues to add a vineyard to their property, but came across many bureaucratic roadblocks—treating the farm like a major corporation and making it very difficult to move forward with their plans.
Pittman and Croghan eventually successfully transitioned the tobacco farm into The Vineyard at Dodon Farm.
Streamlining the process for local farmers to expand their property into vineyards and wineries is the key point in Walker and Ladd’s bill. Walker’s spokeswoman Pam Scarbro said the councilman met with farmers, administrators and residents to identify specific problems facing the industry.
In an interview with The Sun, Walker said regulative roadblocks are a leading cause to the decreasing number of farms throughout the county.
For years, south county business leaders and residents have called for politicians to “keep south county rural."
The Capital reported that wine is a growing industry in Maryland, totaling $17 million in 2010 and increasing 11 percent the following year.
In the public hearing on Monday night in Annapolis the council will hear from various individuals before moving forward with an official vote on the legislation.