Conecuh Ridge rezoning recommended

Published 3:00 am Friday, September 27, 2019

Conecuh Ridge Distillery is one step closer to building its Troy facility after receiving approval form the Troy Planning Commission Thursday night.

The commission did not vote to rezone the property, but to recommend the rezoning to the Troy City Council, which is standard procedure.

The 76-acre property is still owned by the city, and the rezoning is part of the plan the council approved in September 2017 to bring the whiskey manufacturer to Troy.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Christopher Quirk, who represented the city and the distillery at the meeting, shared the plans for the new facility.

Phase one of the distillery would include the 8,000 square-foot “big house,” which would include a retail area and a bar; a 9,300 square-foot distillery and still house; a 7,300 square-foot service house; and a 15,000 square-foot rickhouse.

The distillery would only be accessible from Trojan Way, with a gravel drive leading to a gravel parking lot for 240 vehicles.

Perimeter trees would be planted, or current trees kept, to obscure the site from residential view and an apple orchard will be planted to screen the parking area from view from Orion Street.

Quirk did request for a driveway from Orion Street to an existing barn on the property or maintenance purposes, and said the drive would not connect to any other part of the site.

Phase two of the site development would include the construction of six guest cottages, a “moonshine with Clyde experience,” a walking trail around the site, a distillery and still house expansion, a museum, a restaurant, another rickhouse and an amphitheater.

A few residents from the Heritage Ridge neighborhood came to express concerns and ask questions.

Carolyn Baker asked what would keep motorists from cutting through the apple orchard to Orion Street. Quirk said the property will be fenced, so motorists will have to enter and exit through the Trojan Way entrance.

Tina Pouncey noted that GPS services may still bring significant traffic through Orion Street to reach the Trojan Way entrance. A representative of the company said that talks have been started with Google about mapping all routes to the distillery to use Trojan Way only, but said he was not sure whether Google had agreed to that yet. He said the only road signage leading to the site will be on U.S. Highway 231 directing visitors to use Trojan Way.

If approved by the council, the property would the first ever within the city to be zoned as a tourism development district.

“The district has provisions that are put in place to protect surrounding areas while also meeting the intent of the district,” said planning and zoning administrator Melissa Sanders. “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.”

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 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.

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 council could vote to approve the rezoning at its next meeting on Tuesday, October 8. The council will convene in the City Council Chambers at 5 p.m.