The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has decided against licensing B Chord Brewing Company, stopping short owner Marty Dougherty’s plans for a farm brewery on Foggy Bottom Road near Bluemont.
Neighbors of the would-be brewery have been vehemently opposed to the project, arguing that the operation would bring heavy traffic to their rural roads and disrupt their neighborhood.
The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board agreed with B Chord’s critics that “the operation of a licensed limited brewery at that location would substantially interfere with the usual quietude and tranquility of a residence or residential area,” overturning a hearing officer’s earlier recommendation to grant the license.
“In the present case, the Board cannot ignore the will of the citizens and residents of the community where the applicant is located,” wrote the board in a decision signed by Chairman Jeffrey L. Painter. “The testimony and evidence presented by the community members, especially that of the nearby residents, is sufficient to give the Board reasonable cause to believe that the operation of a limited brewery by the applicant would interfere with the usual quietude and tranquility of the residents nearby.”
B Chord Brewing Company has faced objections at the local and state level at every step of the process, including most recently the appeal of the hearing examiner’s decision.
“The objectors have managed to hassle us from the beginning—their efforts to put an end to our farm brewery was based on a false, misleading and slanderous campaign that included newspaper ads, postcards and door to door canvasing,” the company posted on its Facebook page. “We are evaluating ALL of our legal options, including appealing this decision.”
Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tony Howard said he wonders how consistent the ruling is with the state legislation that originally enabled farm breweries in agricultural areas.
“The best way to keep land in agricultural use is to make it economically viable for the owner to do so, because otherwise the alternative is, it could turn into more residential housing,” Howard said. The Chamber lobbied the General Assembly for the state law protecting farm breweries, and Howard said there are more questions than answers about the ABC’s decision on B Chord at the moment.
“Equestrian facilities that are commercial in nature aren’t considered inconsistent with that, community-supported agriculture and you-pick farms are not considered inconsistent with the quietude and tranquility of the area, so why the special treatment for farm breweries?” Howard said.
Those objectors are represented by attorney and General Assembly Delegate David Albo (R-42), who represents part of Fairfax.
B Chord Brewing Company owner Marty Dougherty has not yet responded to a request for comment.