Jack Daniel's Blamed for Fungus Coating Tennessee County

Barrelhouse construction halted over lack of permits in Lincoln County
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 2, 2023 10:34 AM CST
Jack Daniel's Blamed for Fungus Coating Tennessee County
This 2007 photo shows whiskey fungus growing near a distillery in Jamestown, in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland.   (Wikimedia Commons/Lairich Rig)

Construction on a Jack Daniel's whiskey barrel warehouse in Tennessee has been halted after a woman complained about an ugly fungus coating her property, which neighbors six other Jack Daniel's barrelhouses. The crusty black stuff is whiskey fungus, or Baudoinia compniacensis, which can grow on a variety of surfaces as it feeds on alcohol vapors known as "angel's share." Christi Long of Lincoln County sued her local zoning office, complaining that she'd spent $10,000 annually on power-washing to get rid of the fungus, per the Independent. She worries that more planned warehouses on the neighboring site—one is already under construction—will further affect her wedding and party venue, per the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Late last month, Lincoln County Chancellor JB Cox wrote that the court "has little choice but to issue a writ compelling Lincoln County, through its office of Zoning and Planning, to rescind the building permit for the remaining structure under construction," as Long's property "has been injured by the inactions and recent actions of Lincoln County." Long had argued the county didn't properly approve permits for the warehouses, per the BBC. Lincoln County Mayor Bill Newman testified that he'd promised Jack Daniel's parent company Brown-Forman that "zoning would be waived" in recruiting the whiskey company to the area, while a zoning official testified that Newman told her not to issue building permits because of the agreement, as the Herald-Leader reports.

Ultimately, a site plan for two barrelhouses—not six—was approved. Cox said the county must issue a "stop work" order until the site plan is amended. Long's lawyer says he'll ask the court to stop Jack Daniel's from using the barrelhouses, per the BBC. Long's husband, Patrick, says locals want an air filtration system and an environmental impact statement due to concerns about air quality. "My wife has breathing problems. One of the neighbors got cancer," he tells the Independent. "We respect the chancellor's ruling and look forward to working with Lincoln County on updated permits," a Brown-Forman rep tells the Herald-Leader. A Jack Daniel's rep adds the company is "dedicated to protecting the environment and the safety and health of our employees and neighbors," per the Independent. (More Jack Daniel's stories.)

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