Make us your home page

Keel & Curley Winery faces scrutiny over beer and noise

PLANT CITY — A winery known for its quintessential Florida creations — blueberry, strawberry, key lime and mango wines — is worried it might go out of business if a critical rezoning doesn't go through.

Keel and Curley Winery opened in 2005 and added its own craft beer to the selections last fall. But some rural neighbors are complaining that the business is surpassing what its zoning allows — hosting events, selling beer and having patrons park on land zoned for agriculture.

"The winery itself we weren't opposed to," said neighbor William Woodall, who lives a mile away and filed a complaint with the county. "They're not zoned for what they're doing. It's really not a good area for them."

Woodall and neighbor Lonnie Oswald cited noise and traffic problems, and insufficient lighting and sidewalks. Oswald, who lives about a mile away, said he could hear bands playing on weekend nights while watching TV at home.

"This is a very rural neighborhood," Oswald said. "They're not zoned for the bar. They're not zoned for special events such as weddings, but they've been carrying on right along. They've kind of done it under the radar."

The county staff is evaluating a rezoning proposal that would allow the winery to continue to serve and sell both beer and wine and to host weddings and fundraisers. County planners will make a recommendation to a zoning master about a week before the June 23 hearing.

"Right now, the planned development is approved for a winery and accessory retail establishment associated with that winery," executive planner Brian Grady said. "They're wanting to add, in addition to a winery, a brewery, and to expand the services in the retail building to allow for the sale of beer and to allow weddings on site and other entertainment."

Owner Joe Keel said that the county already approved the brewery and that the winery has hosted events without complaint for years.

"We never knew that we were doing anything that wasn't in their interpretation of the zoning we were granted," Keel said. "They get a complaint from a neighbor and all of a sudden we weren't in compliance and shouldn't be doing this or that. "

What frustrates Keel is that the county signed off on its brewery application in 2013 before it was sent to the state.

"You have to have the county sign saying it's zoned properly to do what you're applying for with the state," Keel said. "As you can see, there's a lot of inconsistencies with the county government. They approved these things, but now they're saying we're not zoned for it properly."

Grady said that although he wasn't part of the brewery application process, typically the county checks to make sure a property has the correct zoning before signing off on applications. Yet the Keel and Curley Winery passed without issues.

More than 4,500 people have signed a petition for the county to approve and adopt the rezoning, Keel said. The petition circled among patrons during the sixth annual Tampa Bay Blueberry Festival at the winery last weekend.

The winery has continued to operate while the county goes over the rezoning. Keel said the operation has spent more than $20,000 on legal fees and could spend as much as $50,000 on various costs throughout the process. That's if the rezoning goes through and the winery doesn't have to make any other changes.

"If it didn't pass, it would put us out of business," Keel said.

It's not the winery the neighbors have a problem with, Oswald said. There's a difference, he said, between customers sampling wine and people sticking around to drink beer and hear music.

"It's just a dangerous situation," he said. "We're not trying to shut down the winery or the wine-tasting facility or the store. We just do not want the brewery. We do not want a bar in this area."

Caitlin Johnston can be reached at or (813) 661-2443.

Keel & Curley Winery faces scrutiny over beer and noise 04/30/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 1, 2014 12:00am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Toys 'R' Us files for bankruptcy but keeps stores open (w/video)


    NEW YORK — Toys 'R' Us, the big box toy retailer struggling with $5 billion in debt and intense online competition, has filed for bankruptcy protection ahead of the key holiday shopping season — and says its stores will remain open for business as usual.

    Shoppers shop in a Toys R Us store on Black Friday in Miami in 2016. Toys R Us, the pioneering big box toy retailer, announced late Monday, Sept. 18, 2017 it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection while continuing with normal business operations. [Associated Press]
  2. Trigaux: Waiting for your next pay raise? Keep dreaming, employers hint

    Working Life

    The economy's bouncing back. The stock market keeps hitting new records. And the jobless rate in Florida may soon drop below 4 percent. Surely, these are robust indicators — key signs that an annual raise is just around the corner. Right?

    Who doesn't want a pay raise? Demonstrators have rallied for years in a number of states for a $15 minimum wage. But many workers across a broad pay range are unlikely to see much if any raises this year, a new survey says. [AP Photo/Seth Wenig]
  3. Florida Guard scales down troop strength; Navy sails away from the Keys

    State Roundup

    The Florida National Guard on Monday drew down its activated statewide forces to about 1,200 on-duty troops, mostly in operations focused on relief distribution in the Florida Keys — and the last of a mini-armada of U.S. Navy ships off Key West set sail for home.

    Soldiers from the Florida National Guard's Delta Company, 1st Battallion, 124th Infantry, 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team on Sept. 14. The Federal Emergency Managment Agency has reported that 25-percent of all homes in the Florida Keys were destroyed and 65-percent sustained major damage when they took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma.  [Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images]
  4. LOCALE Market hosting St. Pete job fair for hospitality positions


    ST. PETERSBURG — Locale Market / FarmTable Kitchen is hosting a hospitality job fair Tuesday in St. Petersburg. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the LOCALE Market at 179 2nd Ave. North, St. Petersburg. Organizers said they hope to hire about 20 workers with a focus on displaced workers from Hurricane …

    Locale Market is hosting job fair on Tues., Feb. 19. [LARA CERRI | Times] 

  5. So far, 335,000 Irma claims totalling $1.95 billion filed in Florida


    Times Staff Writer

    As of Sunday afternoon, insurers had received a total of 335,347 claims statewide for insured damage totalling $1.95 billion caused by Hurricane Irma, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation reported Monday based on preliminary figures.

    This shows a damaged mobile home inside Clover Leaf Farms RV Park in Brooksville. So far, insurers have received a total of 335,347 claims statewide for insured damage totalling $1.95 billion caused by Hurricane Irma.
[MEGAN REEVES   |   Times]