Wineries, breweries and distilleries would still have the option of adding a full-service commercial kitchen under the latest zoning rule amendment recommended by the Yakima County Planning Commission.
But after revisiting the matter one more time, commission members recommended requiring a public hearing and a final decision by a hearing reviewer before that level of food service could be added.
Members of the county’s planning commission deliberated on the details of rule changes for agritourism businesses located in agricultural areas during its virtual meeting on Wednesday, May 11. It was their third consecutive month of deliberations on rule changes after a lengthy public hearing on February 9.
Last month, county planning department officials pointed to a potential legal loophole that would result from the commission members’ previous recommendation to allow full commercial kitchens at “basic” wineries that simply make wine and operate a tasting room.
Currently, these types of wineries, breweries and distilleries can only offer “limited” food service — prepackaged items not cooked on site — county planner Olivia Story said. Food trucks are allowed during special events, she added.
The next level of agritourism allows retail sales and limited-size events such as weddings or smaller concerts in a venue no larger than 1,500 square feet, county planning officer Tommy Carroll said. As with the first tier of agritourism operations (wineries, breweries, and distilleries), only limited catering services and food truck tours are permitted.
County officials are grouping all other agritourism operations into a third category, destinations and resorts, which allow for larger events in a larger venue, up to 12 lodging units for accommodation, retail sales and full-service restaurants.
After Carroll reviewed the three types of agritourism operations and the different levels of approval needed for each, he recommended that only the third category of agritourism operations – requiring the highest standards of approval strict – be allowed to add restaurants.
“We have revised these rules due to changes in the wine industry, which offers more events and more amenities than 20 or 25 years ago,” Carroll said. “The Hearing Reviewer is the appropriate level to make the final decision” on resort agritourism operations with full-service restaurants.
Planning Commission Chairman Doug Mayo agreed with Carroll and amended his motion from the April meeting to require a Level 3 ATO review in front of a hearing examiner. The amendment was approved 4-0 by Mayo and commission members Jerry Craig, Holly Castle and Michael Shuttleworth. Two other commissioners, Kyle Curtis and Robert Tree, were absent.
The commission also addressed the establishment and removal of temporary structures for outdoor festivals in areas zoned for agriculture, such as Chinook Festival in the Naches district. These rules apply to any event that attracts more than 500 people for five hours or more.
Story, the county’s planning official, looked at neighboring counties to see what their rules were about installing temporary structures, when they were inspected for safety requirements and how long event organizers took. had to tear them down.
In the end, commission members voted 4-0 to recommend that temporary structures cannot be started more than 14 days before the event and must be removed within 10 days of the end of the event. They did not set a deadline for inspections.
Finally, the commission members clarified some definitions for the proposed agritourism rules. For example, a brewery that produces 60,000 or more barrels of beer in a year will be considered a domestic brewery. These are subject to stricter regulations and licensing standards than a microbrewery, which produces less than 60,000 barrels per year and may also include hop fields, grain fields and a tasting room.
Story said a final set of definitions and amendments to proposed changes to the county’s agritourism rules will be reviewed for a final recommendation at the June 8 planning commission meeting. This recommendation will go to the Yakima County Board of Commissioners, which can approve or reject the new rules.