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Winery owner fined for violating county ordinances

A Jackson County hearings officer has found Belle Fiore Winery owner Edward Kerwin in violation of two county ordinances.

Hearings officer Rick Whitlock concluded that Kerwin operated a restaurant without approval and violated the prepacked foods provisions in his 2010 permit. Kerwin was fined $1,200.

Whitlock ordered Kerwin to restrict food service by Aug. 22 to a "limited service restaurant" in accordance with the terms of the 2010 Land Use Approval.

"Kerwin has violated the terms of the 2010 Land Use Approval by offering food services at Belle Fiore that far exceed the 'limited service restaurant' limitations," Whitlock wrote in his decision. "Kerwin is not authorized under any Jackson County land use approval to offer the extensive menu options available with the current menu."

Ashland lawyer Chris Hearn, representing Kerwin, said Friday his client intends to appeal to the state Land Use Board of Appeals.

Hearn said Jackson County's statutes "don't track" with 2013 state statutes, which are more lenient than previous regulations.

"Jackson County's ordinances are reflecting prior statutory language, and there are inherent language ambiguities in the state statutes," Hearn said. "There are a number of appealable issues."

He said Kerwin is hoping to work out out a compromise menu during the appeal period.

"He would prefer not terminating employees, which would be the case with a lesser level of food service," Hearn said.

Jackson County Development Director Kelly Madding said in July state statutory changes don't mean the terms of a permit can change. A new permit would have to be acquired to incorporate the changes.

Hearn said a trip before LUBA was considered an eventuality.

"It's an open question for wineries across the state that are serving meals," he said. "What do certain statutory words mean? Cafe is a French word. The full-service language was deleted in 2013 — there had to be a reason."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.