They call it "NIMBY," an appropriate acronym that stands for "not in my backyard." It is used most often by people that tell you about all the things they support as long as those things aren’t in their neighborhood.
We saw "NIMBY" at work full time Wednesday in the cramped hearing room of the regional Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Board regional office on Peters Creek Road in Floyd County as a few residents of Thomas Farm Road near the Blue Ridge Parkway tried to tell the rest of us that the last thing we need is a small, family-owned microbrewery around here.
They were joined by a Baptist preacher from Check who offered dire predictions of drunks tear-assing up and down the narrow gravel road that leads to and from the proposed Shooting Creek Farm Brewery. Of course, the Rev. Warren Brown didn’t bother to say how folks who visit a brewery that doesn’t serve beer on premises are going to get blasted. Maybe they were going to buy a six-pack, stop just off the driveway, guzzle all six bottles, and then terrorize the locals.
The 30 or so county residents who crammed into the hearing room for the three-and-a-half hour hearing heard a lot of emotional talk from four residents of Thomas Farm Road who vehemently oppose the effort. The owners of the proposed micro brewery have a petition of seven other residents who say they support the effort. That pretty much accounts for the 11 occupied homes along the two-and-a-half mile stretch of road.
Thomas Farm Road resident Jean Lacoste broke down and cried, saying the brewery right across the road from their home is destroying the life they hoped to make on Thomas Farm Road. Her husband, Paul, second-guessed county officials who approved the operation and suggested the brewery owners didn’t have the proper permits to operate the facility. Others talked about traffic "doubling" on the road. The owners estimate about 10 visitors a day on the four days a week (Thursday through Sunday) when they plan to be open. A Virginia Department of Transportation study found about 15 vehicles a day travel the road now and that includes cars, FedEx/UPI delivery van and logging trucks.
Brett Nichols, one of the four owners of the proposed operation, calls Shooting Creek Farm Brewery a "small, family-run operation." Nichols is already operating an organic farm at the location and says he feels the operation will increase the property values of the owners, who also live on Thomas Farm Road. Opponents disagree, saying the brewery will dump their property values into the crapper.
We don’t have a brewery in our neighborhood. The folks who own the farm across Sandy Flats Road from our property own race cars and sometimes tune them late into the night. Their kids own dirt bikes and like to race up and down the hills of the farm. Sometimes the race cars and dirt bikes are loud but it’s their property and the Floyd County way is to let people make their own decision about how to use their land.
Hearing officer Robert O’Neal said he will deliver an opinion on the license for the brewery in 30-45 days but the neighborhood feud is not likely to end with that decision. The losing side can appeal for a rehearing before the state board officers in Richmond, a process that will extend the fight for two-to-three months more. Then whichever size loses can appeal again for a hearing before Judge Ray W. Grubbs in Floyd County Circuit Court — which means the fight will drag on until next year.
But O’Neal put the whole battle into perspective when he asked Nichols how much beer his operation would brew in a year. The answer: About 600 barrels. About half of that will go into kegs to wholesale distribution to bars and restaurants in and around Floyd County. The other half will be bottled and packed into 360 cases.
O’Neal wanted to know how much room it takes to store or ship 360 cases of beer. Nichols said it would take three 4×4 palletes (each pallete holds 80 cases).
O’Neal calculated the volume of both the cases and kegs and noted that the entire annual production of the proposed micro brewery would not fill half of a single trailor on a semi-truck.
"In other words, we’re not talking about Budweiser here," he said.
Nope. We’re not.