Ada County plans to repeal ‘75% rule’ for liquor licenses
Those applying for a license to sell liquor in unincorporated Ada County currently must receive written approval from 75% of neighbors.
BOISE, Idaho — As the Gem State continues to grow, attracting people from across the country, there’s a push for more wineries — complete with tasting rooms — in the Eagle foothills.
According to Ada County code, those applying for a license to sell liquor in unincorporated Ada County must apply for a conditional use license and receive written approval from 75% of residential property owners at within 1,000 feet of the proposed property.
Ada County commissioners are now considering an order that would remove the “75% rule.” On Thursday, April 14, they heard from members of the public talking about the proposal.
“It really makes people who want to start a business in Ada County think about whether or not they want to do it in the county and maybe go to a nearby county that doesn’t have this additional regulation.” , said Roger Batt. .
According to Moya Dolsby, executive director of the Idaho Wine Commission, Idaho has more than 70 wineries and there is a lot of interest in establishing more. She doesn’t see the need to get approval from neighbors to sell wine.
“We want to continue to have agriculture,” Dolsby said. “Wine and grapes go together, and we want grapes to be grown and we want to preserve the foothills because they are beautiful, and with the 75% rule, we are the only ones in the state that I know have that and it just seems a little… Do we need to have that extra layer there?”
According to Dolsby, the wine industry impacts the state $210 million and provides more than 2,800 jobs for Idahoans.
Some neighbors living in the Eagle foothills say they fear more vineyards will also cause negative effects.
One person asked, “How would you feel if your neighbor started hosting events for people who aren’t from your neighborhood and served them alcohol and how would you feel if strangers were watching in your yard? “
Mark Pasculli and his wife own Rolling Hills Vineyard and live in the Eagle foothills. He operates a tasting room in Garden City, but wants to be able to sell wine on his estate.
“The question for me always comes down to 20, 50, 30 years from now, what do the people of the foothills want, do they want the foothills completely littered with houses, or do they want a vibrant wine and agritourism community? ” Pasculli said.
While some neighbors want to continue to have a say in incoming wineries, winemakers like Pasculli say even a few neighbors opposed to incoming wineries could determine the future of the wine industry.
“People aren’t sitting on their patios beating wine,” Pasculli said. “We can develop an agritourism area that is beautiful and has open space, or we can just wait to lose the wrestling match with the developers.”
Ada County Commissioners will continue the public hearing on May 24 in their courtroom on the first floor of the Ada County Courthouse.