Future property of Conecuh Ridge up for annexation

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The owner of a piece of property set to become the location of the Conecuh Ridge Whiskey Distillery will come before the Troy Planning Commission next Thursday to request the annexation of a 13.5-acre portion of the land.

Since the City of Troy signed a project agreement with the distillery back in September 2017, the annexation of the portion lying outside of the city limits has been expected.

It is the first step in the process toward preparing the property for construction.

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Mayor Jason Reeves said bringing all of the land into the city first ensures control over what goes on property.

“Right now they could put anything they want to out there,” Reeves said. “Bringing it into the city limits brings it under our zoning and planning.”

The property is not yet owned by Conecuh Ridge Distillery or even the City of Troy, which according to the project agreement is to purchase the land for the company.

That will come later in the process, Reeves said. The 13.5 acres of land will automatically be zoned Reserved Residential (RR) upon being annexed into the city if the planning commission chooses to allow it.

The commission’s meeting at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 24, in the City Council Chambers will serve as a public hearing on the request for those who want to speak out in favor or opposition of the annexation.

Once the property is annexed, it would need to be rezoned before the distillery could relocate there, which planning and zoning administrator Melissa Sanders said would require another process and public hearing as well.

The city in February created a tourism development district within the zoning ordinance code that, while it is not just for the distillery, would include the facility as a potential candidate for the zoning. The ordinance allows for a specific collective combination of business with over 50 acres of land to qualify, with many residential restrictions still applying to the developments. Sanders said the purpose of the zoning is to bring in tourism-focused businesses while protecting the local surrounding neighborhoods from industrial or commercial intrusions.

The city has already borrowed $1.7 million to purchase the land as soon as Conecuh Ridge officials are ready to move forward with the construction of the facility. The company has 180 days from when the company borrowed the money on January 3, which would mean the deadline is approaching in July.

The city committed to invest $3 million in the company over the next 10 years in return for the company’s promised investment of $13.5 million in the community and at least 30 to 50 jobs initially.

Residents of the nearby subdivision Heritage Ridge have expressed concerns about the distillery negatively affecting property values, bringing in extra traffic and causing other issues. The homeowner’s association and distillery officials have met in recent months to discuss the issues.