BROOKSVILLE — Plans for a winery and cooperage east of Brooksville got a thumbs-up from the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday, but not until after more than two hours of discussion.
Many neighbors voiced opposition to the project. They said they don't want to live near a manufacturing operation, they don't want to see strangers who have been drinking travel their dangerous road, and they are worried about increased traffic and noise.
Planning commissioners voted unanimously to grant a special exception use permit to Zemplen Barrels Wineries LLC. But they added numerous conditions to try to lessen some of the neighbors' concerns.
The 13.1-acre property is on the west side of Cedar Lane, south of Cortez Boulevard, and used to be the location of a church retreat.
Sandor, Anna and Krisztina Kallai and their business partners plan to start a small vineyard, but they also will use grapes from other sources to make wines. In addition, they will resell beer and high-end wines that have been aged in barrels made by their Hungary-based Zemplen Barrels company.
Wine tastings, winemaking demonstrations, trade shows and wine competitions are planned for the site, as is a playground. The property also will be marketed as a venue for weddings, parties and other events. The second phase would be a working cooperage, or wine barrel-crafting operation.
The Kallais described an upscale resort that would energize the sense of community, create jobs and provide economic development.
Deanna Moose, who lives across the street, described a peaceful neighborhood that she fears would be jeopardized.
"We don't want it ruined,'' Moose said.
Neighbor Slayden MacGregor described the operation as a "bar'' on a road with a small shoulder.
"It's a dangerous area to have cars drive up and down when they have been drinking,'' MacGregor said.
Among the conditions imposed by the planning commissioners were shorter hours, stricter rules on lighting, a requirement to insulate the building where the cooperage is housed to reduce noise and a ban on a public address system or amplified music.
The business must also hold an open house for its neighbors.
While the winery still has other approvals it must seek, including building permits, the planning commission's action is final unless the County Commission decides to hear an appeal.