Le Sueur County approves CUP for Next Chapter Winery

On recommendation of the county planning and zoning commission, the Le Sueur County Board of Commissioners approved a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for establishment of a winery in an Ag District of Lanesburgh Township, between Montgomery and New Prague.

The application, by Next Chapter Winery, Timothy and Therese Tulloch (applicant/ owner), came to the county board at its Tuesday, March 26, meeting, and was presented by Kathy Brockway, environmental and P&Z director.

The planning commission recommended approval of the application with the following condition: The applicants shall submit an annual report to the Planning & Zoning Department on wine production, and if they exceed 5,000 retail cases annually, a review of the CUP shall be required.

“This will be our first winery in Le Sueur County, and we’re learning about the project as we proceed,” commented Brockway.

The permit had been approved earlier by P&Z at its March 14 meeting.

During discussion at that meeting, it was learned that applicants have been growing grapes for the past six years. Harvest is the main event of the process, with approximately 30 people per day/per weekend working with the grapes. Adequate parking is provided, with access approved by the county highway department.

The winery will be under strict requirements from the Department of Agriculture. Volunteers work in the vineyards to prune the grape vines and harvest the crop. No more than 10 percent of grapes from other vineyards can be hauled into the site. Private tours are by appointment only, and the winery is seasonal, May through October.

The board also approved two additional CUPs recommended by P&Z:

—Brian and Tiffany Schmidt, Le Center (applicant), Jim Selly, Le Center (owner), a CUP to allow applicants to transfer the development right in Sharon Township.

—O’Malley Construction, Le Center (applicant), Brian O’Malley, Le Center (owner), a CUP to operate a construction company in an Ag District of Lexington Township.

The board also approved appointments of John Wolfe to the board of adjustments and Betty Bruzek to the planning and zoning commission.

Human Resources The commissioners approved several personnel recommendations presented by Human Resources Director Cindy Westerhouse:

Retirement request from Kenneth O’Connell, full time highway maintenance worker; resignations of Marcus Lukes and John Gramling, full time jailer/dispatchers in sheriff’s office; transfer of John Gramling to part time jailer/dispatcher; and hire Nicole Hanson, full time administrative assistant in the recorder’s office.

The board also agreed by consensus to continue to work with Aging Services for Communities for homemaker services, medical assistance transportation and senior services transportation.

Upcoming Meetings

—Regular meeting of county board, Tuesday, April 2, at 9:30 a.m.

—Meeting of Le Sueur County Officials Association, Thursday, April 4, at Le Center American Legion.