Marty Dougherty, the would-be proprietor of B Chord Brewing Company, faced down objectors during a four-hour ABC hearing last week.
Dougherty has tried for months to open B Chord in western Loudoun. A previous attempt to open on Foggy Bottom Road was stopped when residents in the area convinced the Virginia Alcoholic Beverages Commission not to issue a 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 at that time in a decision signed by Chairman Jeffrey L. Painter, adding the testimony of nearby residents led the ABC to believe a brewery would disrupt the residents’ tranquility and quietude.
Now, the same opponents have followed B Chord three miles away, across the Snickersville Turnpike and Rt. 7, to a 64-acre property near Rt. 7 on Williams Gap Road.
The objections were raised under a law that permits the ABC to turn down a license if “the number of licenses existent in the locality is such that the granting of a license is detrimental to the interest, morals, safety or welfare of the public.”
According to the ABC website, B Chord would be the only brewery in the two Round Hill ZIP codes, 20141 and 20142. The other active ABC licenses in Round Hill are Savoir Fare and Stoneleigh Tavern restaurants, Bogati Bodega & Winery, four stores, and a beer wholesaler. The nearest brewery is Dirt Farm Brewery on Foggy Bottom Road.
Dougherty has argued that in this case, the objectors from Bluemont do not have standing to challenge his plans for Williams Gap Road.
At the hearing, the objectors said they do not oppose the license, but that it should not be granted until after construction of a Rt. 7 deceleration lane at the intersection with Williams Gap Road is completed. That work is planned for summer of 2018. Critics said they were worried an increase in traffic coming in and out of Williams Gap Road would be dangerous for westbound traffic going uphill on Rt. 7.
One Williams Gap Road resident also testified against B Chord. Shauna Ploeger said though she lives three miles away on the gravel road, she worries that traffic will turn away from the intersection with Rt. 7, putting her, her children, and her neighbors in danger.
“The road is very narrow,” Ploeger said. “It’s very winding, it’s narrow, and personally, myself, my children, my dogs, my neighbors—we’re all using that road daily. Not just for cars, but we all like exercise, too.”
Ploeger also said the Woodgrove High School cross-country team trains on that road. She pointed out that even if the road is paved through the rural rustic roads program, as the county hopes to do, the road will not be widened, but traffic may move faster on pavement than gravel.
“We’re here today because the objectors from Bluemont have followed me here, basically,” Dougherty said. “They’ve made it clear that they will object to any and all ABC licenses … They have an agenda that has nothing to do with public safety, because if it was, they would have objected to all these other licenses.”
Dougherty rejected suggestions that his brewery will create dangerous traffic conditions along Williams Gap Road or at the intersection with Rt. 7. He said the opponents are “known in the community for objecting to pretty much anything that goes into the countryside” and presented more than 100 letters of support for his brewery—some, he said, from Williams Gap Road residents.
The hearing examiner, Clara Williamson, said she would attempt to reach a decision as soon as possible.