Agrarian Ales: A Call for Community Support

The word "farmhouse" has been used extensively during the last few years to describe beers and breweries. Agrarian Ales in Eugene is literally a farmhouse brewery. On their many acres, they brew beer, grow their own hops, and even grow much of the produce used in their food. If you've never visited, I highly recommend it. It's great for families.

On Friday, Agrarian received some troubling permit news from Lane County. You can read about the details in Agrarian's message below. Bottom line, the brewery isn't allowed to let the public sit under their roof overhang (see image below). In the summer, I expect this would pose less of a problem. But in the rainy Willamette Valley winter and summer, this spells disaster.

Anyway, if you're so inclined, please take a few minutes to contact the elected officials listed at the end of this post and ask them to support Agrarian Ales.

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Image courtesy of Agrarian Ales

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

On Friday February 23 two Lane County officials arrived unannounced at our brewery.  At the close of the official business week and the beginning of our busy weekend, these officials were delivering a message: after five years of operation the county had revised its interpretation of our business, and we were no longer permitted to allow the public under the overhang of our building.  When advised of the impact that this action would have on our business the county officials offered no leniency or clear course of corrective action. Because of the timing of their visit, we had no recourse; all offices were closed, all officials who could work with us on solving this problem were off for their weekend.  They were effectively shutting us down.

Sudden Reinterpretation
Their position supposes that we are operating a commercial enterprise that is not deemed agricultural and therefore requires a special permit to operate in agricultural zoned land.  Because our farm based business is a business on a farm we need the approval of Lane County.  They assert that the overhanging patio area that we have been utilizing for 30 years for various purposes is suddenly not suitable for the public.  From the beginning we have allowed virtually no access to the interior of our building; for a brief moment folks step into a garage door to order and then proceed to sit and enjoy our dynamic offerings under an overhanging roof area.  While other institutions define our building by its walls, Lane County suddenly defines the beams supporting the overhanging roof as walls.  Despite having weathered the impact of scores of birthday parties, graduation celebrations, family get-togethers, even a wedding – despite having survived storms of laughter and enjoyment by a diverse group of patrons from places far and wide, somehow our seating area was deemed unsafe for you and your family.

No Flexibility For Adjustment
A similar situation has occurred in the past in the wine industry in Oregon.  Years ago the 11 wineries in Lane County were told to halt their operations because they were deemed commercial operations in agricultural-use zones.  They were operating tasting rooms much the same as we are with wine rather than beer.  Somehow they were given a different treatment than we are being offered by Lane County.  Wineries were allowed to continue operating as they took steps towards compliance; at least one of those steps was re-writing the county codes to accommodate their specific situations.  We are not asking for special treatment; just the same willingness to allow us to operate as we make the investments needed to comply with the myriad of regulations imposed by Lane County.

A Call To Action
While we are willing to adjust and upgrade our facility; we need the flexibility to operate to finance these upgrades.  After five years of building this beautiful experience so thoroughly enjoyed by the community, bringing friends and families out into the countryside to share the bounty and experience of agriculture, we cannot at a moment’s notice completely remodel our operation.  We ask for your help as we fight for the opportunity to share that experience.  Below is the contact information for the elected officials that represent our community.  Please help by calling, or emailing them and asking for their support as Agrarian Ales seeks the approval of Lane County to operate.  Thank you for your continued support of our family farm.

Kindest regards,
Agrarian Ales Brewing Co.

Community Representation

1 comment:

  1. I sent an email to Sid Leiken regarding this issue and this was his response today:

    "Thank you for your e-mail. Here is the paper trail that I have been able to find out concerning Agrarian Ales. Lane County officials have been in contact with Agrarian since 2009 concerning land use and contacted them in September of 2015 about the building code issues. Even if they resolve the building code issues they do not have a path forward to resolve the non-conforming land use of the restaurant and events center. The land use issue will take legislation by the state in order to resolve, similar to what King Estates had to go through about 8 years ago.

    I will also note that I have not been approached by anyone from Agrarian asking for my help in resolving these issues although I would be happy to talk to them about how the Board supported the legislation that made it possible for King Estates to have a restaurant. Sen. Prozanski was a key legislator in that effort.


    Sid Leiken”


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