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Vineyard concerned proposed ordinance could cause business to suffer

Vineyard concerned proposed ordinance could cause business to suffer
Posted at 5:56 PM, Jun 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-14 17:56:54-04

DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. -- A proposed Agri-Tourism Ordinance in Dinwiddie County has left one family-owned business concerned for its livelihood before it even has the chance to open.

Kirk Thibault, the owner of Riverside Vines in Dinwiddie County, said that the business has been his family's dream.

"We bought 177 acres which is the old Leonard's Campground, as people know it," Thibault said. "We own Ashton Creek Vineyard in Chesterfield County, the winery there."

The family is hoping that the business in Dinwiddie can act as a place for people to come together.

"Events here, this is the tasting room behind us, we can hold weddings here," Thibault said.

The family also plans to run the vineyard as a farm.

"We already have 12 acres planted. We plan to grow that to 30 acres of vines here. The rest will be hay and sheep," Thibault said.

However, with the doors set to open in September, Dinwiddie County is now preparing to update its Agri-Tourism Ordinance.

"Currently, there's about 20 different Agri-Tourism Asset's throughout the county," Morgan Ingram with Dinwiddie Economic Development said.

The proposed ordinance lays out how the business can operate and how frequently it can host certain events.

"They can operate 365 days a year as a winery, have as many people as they want frequenting the winery, the tasting room, enjoying the grounds," Mark Bassett, Dinwiddie's Planning Director, said.

However, the ordinance limits special events like weddings to just 26 days a year.

"This only pertains to special events," Basset said.

The limitation placed on special events has left Thibault concerned about his business.

"This place cannot make it on 26," he said.

However, those with the county believe that this new ordinance has looser restrictions compared to the one before.

"Our old ordinance was actually more restrictive," Ingram said.

Dinwiddie County also said that the winery can request a Conditional Use Permit for free.

While the request is free and, if approved, would allow unlimited special events, Kirk is concerned that if the 26 days limit is approved, the number could be lowered in the years to come.

If the conditional use permit is denied, he believes that his business will suffer.

A public hearing on the ordinance will be held Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the Dinwiddie Courthouse.