Posted: Thursday, December 23, 2010 9:00 AM
Capital Press file photo
A band performs at Bethel Heights Winery near Salem in this file photo. Two proposals for regulating activities at wineries and other farms were aired last week during a meeting of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Interim Committee.
Groups seek to clarify which events allowed on farms
By MITCH LIES
SALEM -- An effort to clarify which promotional activities are allowed on Oregon farms is advancing on two fronts in the state Legislature.
On one front, Associated Oregon Counties has developed a concept giving counties the option to permit entertainment and promotional events at wineries and other farm sites in areas zoned exclusive farm use.
On a second front, a winery group aired a concept that would give statewide clearance for certain events at wineries -- and not require a permit.
Both concepts would limit the size and frequency of allowable events. And both require the activities to be associated with farm products produced on the event site.
Associated Oregon Counties formed a task force last April to address confusion in state law, lobbyist Art Schlack said. Their intent was to develop a bill to clarify the law.
"We found state statute wasn't clear," Schlack said. "It was somewhat gray when it comes to what activities could take place on agricultural lands."
The AOC task force aired its findings last week at an interim legislative committee meeting. It would allow a county to permit events under conditional use permits, if an activity is appropriate to the primary use of a farm. The permit would be restricted to no more than six events per year, limiting events to 72 hours.
A winery or other farm could also apply for a single-event permit, which could be issued over the counter, Schlack said.
Under the wine growers' concept, which also was aired last week, wineries would have implied authority to host events, and would not need a permit.
It would limit how much a winery could make from non-wine sales to 25 percent of on-site wine sales.
Oregon Department of Agriculture land-use specialist Jim Johnson said the department supports elements of both concepts, but neither "is comprehensive enough."
Lawmakers passed a bill last February that clarified the rights of wineries in exclusive farm use zones to sell non-wine items.
It limited revenues wineries can generate from non-wine sales to 25 percent of a winery's on-site wine sales.
The bill's provisions sunset Jan. 1, 2013.