LINCOLN COUNTY, Tenn. (WHNT) — On Thursday, the Lincoln County Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4-1 to approve a site plan by Brown-Forman Corporation and Jack Daniels to allow them to continue to build and operate barrel houses.
Just two days earlier, a Lincoln County judge put a temporary halt to adding barrels of Jack Daniels whiskey to any of its warehouses until the commission made its decision.
Residents and business owners in both Lincoln and Moore counties have been engulfed by the whiskey fungus that has emanated from those barrel houses. After complaints to the county commission, which included the filing of three lawsuits, the planning and zoning commission voted in favor of Brown-Forman.
In February Christi Long, a business owner, filed a lawsuit against the local government officials seeking relief from the whiskey fungus, arguing that Jack Daniel’s has not followed the required processes to build and expand a barrelhouse operation on the site.
The petition claimed Lincoln planning and zoning had failed to enforce its zoning ordinance on the barrel warehouses. The petition stated ethanol is on the Environment Protection Agency’s (EPA) list of hazardous materials, and C-1 zoning in Lincoln County does not permit the storage of hazardous materials.
The planning and zoning commission said to the residents at the packed meeting on Thursday that whatever is coming from those barrel houses and destroying the homes, trees and plants is ‘not our issue’, and voted in favor of Jack Daniels to continue doing business in its county.
Patrick and Christi Long pleaded with the commission to allow a 60-day environmental study on the ethanol-based black mold dubbed “the angels’ share.”
The Longs say they are not against Jack Daniel’s development but want the distiller to provide filtration to prevent the whiskey fungus spread.
“How could you possibly vote on something that you have no idea what you are voting on,” Christi Long said. “Yes, they met the standards of planning and zoning to put the barrel houses out there but what did the county contract to? We don’t know because the mayor did a handshake deal. We have no idea, and you are killing us out there in district six and they don’t care.”
Patrick and Christi Long told News 19 that their fight against Brown-Forman and Jack Daniels is just the beginning.
“We are working with our research partners, and they are going to come onto our property and do the studies that Jack Daniels won’t do,” Patrick Long said. “We’re meeting with the EPA on Monday, and we will say that you have all of the evidence that you need.”
A spokesperson for Brown-Forman refused News 19’ request for comment on the ruling.