FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX 56) – A group of Frankfort residents has joined together to oppose a well-known distillery’s planned expansion to their part of town.
Nestled in Frankfort’s Elkhorn Hills is the quiet community of Peak’s Mill. As the demand for bourbon increases, Buffalo Trace said it needs more space to store it. But residents think their neighborhood isn’t the place for it to go.
“Taxes aside this represents a real threat to all of us, and we’re talking about a huge change here,” Peaks Mill resident Dr. Richard Taylor told FOX 56.
About a mile from Taylor’s home is a several-hundred-acre farm that the historic distillery has set its sights on. It could be the new location of as many as 20 new bourbon warehouses.
“People from every background imaginable have come together to resist this in any way we can,” Taylor said. Taylor has helped organize the group “Protect Peaks Mill.” Many residents have displayed “Protect Peaks Mill” signs in their yards. Taylor said about 5 boxes worth were distributed from his home. Now there’s only a handful inside one remaining box.
Part of the reason Peaks Mill residents aren’t welcoming a new neighbor has to do with a common side effect of storing whiskey – black “Angels Share” fungus.
“It is the devil to get rid of and it probably, though this is not firmly established, has effects on human health,” Taylor said.
But the black fungus isn’t the only thing keeping residents concerned. They’re also bothered by how much more commercial traffic could be coming down the quieter two-lane road into their community that passes an elementary school.
“The road theoretically would be – needed to be widened not to mention the damage that would be down to the road, as well as the safety factor,” Taylor said.
There’s also a legal factor at play. Taylor said Buffalo Trace applied to rezone the farm from residential agricultural to industrial, but was denied. He said the distillery is now seeking a text change to the definition of residential agricultural zoning to allow whiskey barrel storage.
“Buffalo trace in large part has been a really good neighbor. This is affecting, this is challenging that neighborhood status, especially in going around the corner, behind the intent of the comprehensive plan in order to alter the ground rules in such a way that would be advantageous to that cause,” Taylor said.
Taylor said he wants the distillery to examine the long-term impacts of the development. The Protect Peaks Mills group is meeting Sunday, May 1 at Taylor’s home to organize hiring an attorney and have a discussion about their options moving forward.
Buffalo trace spokesperson Amy Preske responded to the concerns over email.
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She said the distillery is confident development will benefit the community by driving tourism, creating jobs, and increasing funding for schools and other local services.
Preske also said bourbon warehouses are not significant traffic generators and the warehouses will be placed in the middle of the property to create a buffer zone to the surrounding area. Preske also said black fungus is common at all distilleries and there’s no evidence it causes health issues.
Priske said anyone with questions about the project can get information at SupportBuffaloTrace.com.