Conecuh Ridge land up for rezoning

Published 9:23 pm Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Two years after the City of Troy announced that Conecuh Ridge Distillery would locate in Troy, the whiskey company is moving forward with a request to rezone the property.

The 76-acre property, currently owned by the City of Troy, is zoned as reserved residential and medium residential. Representatives of Conecuh Ridge will request the Planning Commission on Thursday, September 26, for the property to be rezoned as a tourism development district.

“It is special to see an application for a tourism development district zoning,” said Melissa Sanders, planning and zoning administrator. “The district has provisions that are put in place to protect surrounding areas while also meeting the intent of the district. It’s great to see development possibly coming out on Trojan Way, which was the original entrance into Troy; hopefully, it will spur development along Trojan Way along that corridor into Downtown Troy.”

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Sanders and the planning commission worked to create the new district following Conecuh Ridge’s announcement that the company would be locating in Troy.

According to the zoning ordinance, “the intent of the Tourism Development District is to provide for large acreage under unified control to be planned and developed as a whole to encourage the growth of tourism oriented mixed-use properties…”

The district

The city offered more than $1.7 million in incentives to the company to locate in Troy, in exchange for a $13.5 million initial capital investment and employing 50 people at an average annual salary of $54,000.

Residents of nearby Heritage Ridge have expressed concerns in the past about the distillery locating near their neighborhood, specifically addressing  “smell, noise, traffic and the unknown effect on our home values.”

The city and Conecuh Ridge have since worked with Heritage Ridge owners to provide more information, but Benny Scarbrough of the Heritage Ridge Homeowners Association said residents still have questions and concerns that they will likely bring forward again during the commission meeting.

“We just want to make sure that our neighborhood is protected in a certain manner,” Scarbrough said. “I think a lot of communication between both sides would help that come to be. There’s still a lot of speculation and we want to get out of that mode … We’re not trying to stop anything from happening, we just want to look out for our neighborhood, as anyone would.”

LC May, grandson of Clyde May and spokesperson for Conecuh Ridge, addressed some of those concerns at a meeting of the Troy Exchange Club last year.

On specific concern from residents was a “black mold” associated with some distilleries. May said the residue will not be a problem at Conecuh Ridge because it is created when barrels are charred and the distillery will not have their barrels charred on site.

There have been delays in the original timeline for Conecuh Ridge to begin construction, partially because of the company’s purchase of the “second oldest distillery in Ireland” according to Council President Marcus Paramore. Paramore said there were other delays that he could not yet discuss, but that could benefit the company and result in even more jobs than expected at the new facility.

The planning commission will meet in the City Council Chambers at Troy City Hall at 4 p.m. on Thursday, September 26, to consider the request among others.