Friday, April 8, 2016

Ag-review committee to hear Brown-Forman application Wednesday for warehouses north of Midway Station

Artist's rendering of one concrete warehouse, with others in background. Windows would be false. (Luckett & Farley)
By Aayat Ali
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Brown-Forman Corp. is asking permission to build 12 two-story whiskey warehouses on a farm next to Midway Station and South Elkhorn Creek.

The Louisville distiller’s application for a conditional use permit will be considered by the Agricultural Review Committee of the county Planning and Zoning Commission on April 13 at 8 a.m. at the county courthouse.

“They will make a recommendation to our Board of Adjustment,” said P & Z Director Patricia Wilson. “They are requesting to build 12 barrel warehouses to store bourbon in, two buildings every other year, as needed.”

Brown-Forman says that since bourbon is a product made from grains, building the warehouses on farmland is an agricultural enterprise that fits the A-1 agricultural zone. It also says the warehouses would reduce the possibility of industrial development on the land.

The warehouses would be built on 117 acres of a 400-acre farm over the next 10 years.  Each two-story high, 900,000-square-foot warehouse would hold about 65,000 barrels of Woodford Reserve bourbon.  The farm would continue operating as a farm, according to the company’s application.

The farm is owned by the Homer Michael Freeney Jr. Trust. It borders the industrial section of Midway Station on the south, Elkhorn Creek on the east, another farm on the north and Georgetown Road on the west. Access to the warehouses would be from Georgetown Road.

The state Economic Development Cabinet announced March 31 that it had approved Brown-Forman for $400,000 in tax incentives on an estimated initial investment of $22 million.

Brown-Forman says the full cost of development is $120 million, and has asked the Woodford County Fiscal Court to issue that amount of industrial revenue bonds in order to give the project a property-tax break. The request will be discussed at the next Fiscal Court meeting on April 12, said Timothy Eifler of Stoll Keenon Ogden, the attorneys for Brown-Forman.

“The county is not on the hook for the bonds,” Eifler said in an interview. “It’s not a true borrowing in the sense that the county is not borrowing money or liable for it. “Brown-Forman will be making lease payments that will pay repay those bonds.”

“The warehouses won’t cost the local government anything, they just generate revenue,” Eifler said. He said each fully loaded warehouse would generate approximately $153,000 in property taxes on the whiskey.

“They don’t demand any resources from local government,” Eifler said.  “It’s not a like a manufacturing plant where more people will be moving into the county or putting a tax on local resources. All they do is generate a lot of property tax because of the amount of barrels that would get taxed annually.”

The Board of Adjustment may choose to hold a public hearing on May 2 at 6:30 p.m. if the Agricultural Review Committee approves the plan on Wednesday.

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