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Owner of future ‘cidery’ clarifies claims by Summit County Council candidate

Owners of a future cider-tasting venue hope to offer people a place to taste and learn about what they describe as "apple-based wine" from orchards like this one at their property in Marion.
Brendan Coyle
Owners of a future cider-tasting venue hope to offer people a place to taste and learn about what they describe as "apple-based wine" from orchards like this one at their property in Marion.

A future "cidery" made waves in planning commission meetings earlier this month. The project owner said some who voiced concerns may not have the full story.

A Summit County Council candidate said Tuesday that a future cider-tasting venue was an example of special interests at work.

Brendan Coyle said he and his wife Carly want to use their 20-acre parcel of farmland in Marion to open an estate “cidery,” which is like a winery but with cider.

“An estate cidery is the exact same thing except you're taking apples and you're making cider from it, because really, cider is just an apple-based wine,” he said. “The majority of the property — 75% — will be planted in trellis apples, and 25% or less of the property will be developed to have a tasting room and three overnight rooms for staying.”

The orchard and cider plans got the final go-ahead in the form of a conditional use permit at this month’s meeting of the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission.

At the next meeting, a group of people showed up to protest the project. Planning commissioners told KPCW they voted not to take public comment about it because they were too late — approval was already final.

Jack Murphy is running for Summit County Council. In an interview with KPCW Tuesday, he said he’d work to combat influence from special interests. He mentioned the orchard as an example of special interests potentially shaping policy, though he said he needed to learn more about that specific project.

“It was supposed to be a u-pick just for the community,” Murphy said. “Now, they've put forth to the Eastern Planning Commission a bar that would serve alcohol, a gazebo and a couple other things. And so that's just another example of where the community thought that they were going to get an orchard that they could pick apples from, and now there's this presentation about a whole bar-slash-commercial-establishment in the middle of a residential area.”

According to Brendan Coyle, that’s not how it happened. He said the project was planned as an estate cidery all along, and for the past year and a half, the Coyles have worked with the county on plans that included serving alcohol.

He said some neighbors who shared concerns with the planning commission brought up that the application included an “event center.” He said while that may sound like a large complex, it’s really just a 3,000-square-foot cider-tasting room.

Coyle said he understands neighbors’ concerns.

“Yes, we will have a bar license on-site so we can serve our cider with our food in the way that we want to as a winery tasting room, but this is by no means a late-night bar venue. That's not what we want to bring to the community,” he said. “We want to bring to the community a place where there'll be both a full selection of non-alcoholic beverages as well as alcoholic beverages, focusing on what we produce on-site and on the education behind it — the pairing with the food, the education of the agriculture [and] of the whole site or ecosystem.”

He also argued the project aligns with conservation efforts popular among Summit County residents. In a time when land values are high and developers commonly buy farmland to build homes and stores, he said this is a way to keep at least 75% of the property green and open.

Corrected: October 26, 2022 at 11:12 AM MDT
An earlier version of this report mischaracterized Murphy's comments about how he would represent voters. KPCW regrets the error.
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