BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday approved plans for a small distillery on acreage surrounded by the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area.
Kevin and Natalie Goff intend to grow rye on a portion of 40 acres they own at the end of Wild Buck Road, north of Weeki Wachee, just west of the Glen Lakes community. Then, using a commercial-grade still, they plan to produce about 30 gallons of bourbon and whiskey a month, distributing it to local stores.
The unanimous approval of the special exception use permit for the still and spirit-making business was the first step of many. Extensive permitting and licensing for the operation at the state and federal levels will follow. Goff predicted it would be a couple of years before the first batch of liquor will be ready for the market.
There was no public comment on the plan other than an email from a Glen Lakes resident who was concerned about traffic in and out of the site.
But Goff said the land was isolated and that he didn't anticipate "any impact at all'' on the surrounding area. He said the business involved only him and his wife and that no extra vehicles, odors or noise would be noticeable to the public. The property is accessible only by a narrow sand road that is private.
"We're just trying to start up a mom-and-pop type of operation,'' he said.
Planning Commission member Robert Widmar said he saw the Goffs' plan as simply being another way to use agricultural property to produce a product for the marketplace. Agriculture is "pseudo-commercial by its very nature,'' he said.
Planning Commission alternate John Scharch said he was glad to see someone with a different idea for a business in these difficult times.
"I think it's a great endeavor,'' Scharch said.
"I applaud what you're doing,'' said commission Chairman Ron Caldi. "I hope your business takes off like a rocket.''
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.