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Bedminster adds winery use and agribusiness use

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Noticing that property owners in nearby townships have sometimes added uses to the consternation of their neighbors, Bedminster Township is acting toward minimizing such occurrences for its own residents.

In particular, officials are moving to add two new uses to their zoning ordinance, including protective regulations.

The action was taken at the April 10 public board of supervisors meeting as authorization to advertise a proposed amendment of the township zoning ordinance, to provide for “a new winery/brewery/distillery use and a new agritourism accessory use, and their respective regulations.”

In introducing the proposal, Solicitor John B. Rice described it as “state-driven,” with actions in the legislature “a long time ago, requiring each municipality” to provide opportunity for a broad range of zoning types.

The zoning amendment proposal, designed to mitigate the effect of the requirement on residents while maintaining the rights of promoters, has been reviewed and recommended by the township planning commission.

The new winery/brewery/distillery use, an addition to agricultural use, includes requirements for a 5-acre minimum lot area, and any building or structure being at least 100 feet from any street or property line.

Other requirements include annual production limits of 100,000 gallons for wine; 14,000 barrels for beer; and 50,000 gallons for spirits.

The new agritourism accessory use calls for an already-existing general farming, equestrian, or winery/brewery/distillery use, and lists commercial entertainment, retail sales, and tasting facilities as basic types of agritourism. Twenty use activities are specifically listed, including u-pick fruits and vegetable operations; wagon, sleigh, and hay rides; and recreation-related operations.

They are all subject to a variety of general and particular requirements, such as hours of operation, and operators being “limited to the owner of the principal use on the site, his/her immediate family, and no more than the equivalent of 10 full-time employees.”

In one example, a community event “shall not last more than 10 hours; shall not span more than two days; and shall start after 8 a.m. and end no later than 8 p.m.,” with “no more than 500 people” attending, and “all set up and take down work” limited to between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.”

Overall, any new use “must be incidental to and directly supportive of the agricultural use of the site and will not have significant impacts on the agricultural viability or rural character of neighboring properties.”

Also at their April 10 meeting, supervisors approved a resolution, following a public hearing, accepting proposed extensions to their agricultural security area (ASA) district. ASA designation is designed to protect farming properties from “nuisance complaints” such as odor during fertilizer application, and sometimes is a step toward land preservation designation.

Previously approved by the Bucks County Planning Commission, the extension includes the 66-acre Randy R. Labs property on both sides of Edgehill Road, west of Kellers Church Road, and the 96-acre Carmen C. Rocco Jr. Blue Rock Development Corp. property on Bedminster Road, at the northeast corner of the intersection of Routes 113 and 313.


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