Following a hearing it was determined two “yoga and beer” events were permitted at a brewery in Howard County, Maryland. Yes, yoga and beer is a Millennial ‘thing’ and more.
This matter was initiated with a complaint filed by a neighbor of the Manor Hill Farm and Brewery who alleged that the yoga events were not an agricultural activity and that more than 50 people might attend which could increase traffic.
Penultimate in the consideration is that the farm has an Agritourism Special Use Farm Permit for these activities, “Farm tours, farm stays, farm photography sessions, hay rides, corn mazes, classes related to agricultural products or skills, and picnic and party facilities offered in conjunction with the farm visitation.” The County zoning inspector who conducted a field inspection during one of the events, testified that he considered this permit in his conclusions that yoga was well within the activities allowed under this permit.
On cross examination, the inspector testified the yoga “class was held in a field just west of the brewery.” The complainant averred yoga is a prohibited use.
That 25 people actually attended was well within the 50 visitors allowed at one time at a Farm Brewery Class 1 activity, which includes beer tastings.
Board of Appeals Hearing Officer Michele L. LeFaivre reasoned, “[I]t is permissible for an “educational program” to be a yoga event, activity, or performance with fewer than 50 attendees who taste beer during a visit.”
And you will be glad you took the time to read the 25 page written decision In The Matter Of Sara Domerchie, not simply for its legal scholarship but also because the writing is sheer delight when it includes passages like,
The term “educational program” is sufficiently clear. Clarity is a question of reasonableness. As future United States Supreme Court Justice Souter observed in a New Hampshire Supreme Court zoning interpretation opinion, “[a] reference to ‘sufficient’ clarity is, of course, a criterion of reasonableness, and our prior cases have avoided any suggestion that a fussy standard of technical drafting should be applied in passing on the validity of municipal or administrative regulations.” Barton v. H.D. Riders Motorcycle Club, Inc., 131 N.H. 60, 64, 550 A.2d 91, 94 (1988). An absence of fussy precision in the application of the term “educational program” does not credential Appellant’s assertion of yoga as commercial activity, not agricultural activity, and which, in the last instance, is a misunderstanding of how HCZR treats farm uses, which includes more than agricultural activity.
The Hearing Officer gave great deference to the Department of Planning and Zoning having determined there was no violation and closing out the enforcement case triggered by the complaint. While not directly relevant here, we enjoyed reading that this same complainant protested a “pet day care” conditional use permit on the same street, highlighting the interplay of zoning ordinances and alcoholic beverage laws.
The combination of yoga and beer are safe, at least in Howard County. Okay the pairing of yoga and beer was likely not conceived when the first Howard County zoning ordinance was adopted in 1949 (so it does not appear in the ordinance’s list of permitted uses), but today yoga and beer events are popular from Toronto to Kathmandu and trending across the U.S. are hosting those events to support a local charity.
We are excited that this sounds like a great way to promote not only a farm brewery and also your business in Maryland and beyond.