Running Hare Vineyard Zoning Violations

The Calvert County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) is committed to transparency and providing accurate information to the public regarding recent events at Running Hare Vineyard (Running Hare) in Prince Frederick. The BOCC have not voted to cancel any events at Running Hare.

Running Hare is not compliant with zoning requirements and several structures and electrical work have been installed on the property without permits or inspections. The county has been working with Running Hare for several years in attempt to bring the establishment into compliance and continues to make every effort to work with Running Hare to meet safety standards and allow for events to be held that comply with all applicable laws, regulations and agricultural preservation covenants. Despite the efforts made by the county, required permits and inspections have not been fully executed. 

Running Hare is located on property that was voluntarily submitted to be permanently preserved as an agricultural preservation district in 1983. Agricultural Preservation Districts (APDs) earn money upon the sale of Transferrable Development Rights (TDRs) and receive tax benefits; TDRs are important to help maintain the county’s agricultural character and heritage. In exchange, allowed uses and public events must keep within the county’s agricultural heritage. APDs may be approved by the Agricultural Preservation Advisory Board to hold up to two public events per year. Since there are open violations on the property, no public events of any kind are permitted; currently only private events can be held in the property’s event building. There is no limit to the number of private events allowed.

Land use regulations help to protect the environment and Calvert County’s cultural heritage by ensuring projects and activities are carried out in a manner that preserves natural resources and promotes the agricultural legacy of our county. 

Although the regulatory process can be perceived as burdensome, permitting and inspections are important to protect public safety by ensuring that buildings, structures and activities comply with laws, codes and regulations in order to prevent accidents, fires and other hazards. Permitting and inspections ensure that construction projects are structurally sound to prevent collapse that could endanger patrons and staff. 

It is deeply unfortunate that this situation has impacted the Hospice of the Chesapeake fundraiser. We are doing all we can to help ensure that Hospice will hold a successful event at the Huntingtown Fire Department and support their mission to provide crucial care to patients and families throughout our community.

County staff and the Agricultural Preservation Advisory Board have made extensive efforts since June 2020 to work with the property owners of Running Hare to bring them into compliance and allow for events to be held that comply with all applicable laws, regulations and agricultural preservation covenants.


Below is a timeline of Calvert County’s efforts to bring Running Hare into compliance:

  1. 2019
  2. 2020
  3. 2021
  4. 2022
  5. 2023

Sept. 13, 2019 
A fire destroyed the onsite wine production facility that had been constructed without permits or inspections. Running Hare made no contact with the county regarding alternatives for onsite wine production until the county staff inquired in June 2020. 


What is the Agricultural Preservation Program?
Calvert County created the first land preservation program in Maryland and currently has the most active transferable development rights (TDR) program in the state. The TDR program goal is to deter development of farms and forest lands to areas targeted for residential and commercial growth, such as designated town centers.

Calvert County’s Agricultural Preservation program offers financial incentive and tax benefits to landowners for voluntarily preserving agricultural and forestry land through the sale of TDRs. In exchange, landowners agree to limit uses and events to those that keep with the county’s agricultural heritage.

How many Agricultural Preservation Districts (APDs) are there in Calvert County?
Currently, there are approximately 508 APDs.

Why are zoning laws important?
Zoning laws are created for the simple purpose of protecting the health, safety and general welfare of the people as relates to land use. Zoning laws regulate the impacts of land use that may not be in the best interests of the people, generally including such things as:

  • Protecting the value and enjoyment of properties by separating incompatible land uses and minimizing their potentially negative impacts upon each other
  • Protecting the value and enjoyment of properties by allowing a property its most appropriate land use given its location and surrounding uses
  • Providing for the orderly development of a city, including making provisions for land uses in the best interests of its citizens, and
  • Providing adequate public infrastructure, e.g., roads, water and sewers

Why is code enforcement important?
Enforcement of codes and ordinances can be essential to the provision of safe and healthy living and working conditions for the members of the community.


Agricultural Preservation District: An area of prime agricultural or forestry land voluntarily placed in the Calvert County or Maryland State Agricultural Land Preservation Program, with approval of the Calvert County Agricultural Preservation Advisory Board and/or the Board of County Commissioners.

Agritourism: The act of visiting working farms to engage in outdoor recreation, participate in educational experiences, or enjoy entertainment and hospitality services.

Agritourism Enterprise: Activities conducted on a working farm and offered to the public or to invited groups for the purpose of recreation, education, or active involvement in a farm operation. Such activities include farm tours, hayrides, corn mazes, classes, and picnic facilities.

  • The activity shall be related to agriculture or natural resources and incidental to the primary operation of the farm.

Agritourism Use: A commercial enterprise located on a working farm, and related to the activities on that farm, intended to attract tourists and provide supplemental income for the farm owner. Agritourism uses include, but are not limited to: fishing, hunting, wildlife study, horseback riding, wine tasting, harvest festivals, barn dances, farm stays, u-pick operations, or roadside stands.

Farm Winery: An establishment located on a farm with a producing vineyard, orchard, or similar growing area and with facilities for fermenting and bottling wine on the premises where the owner manufactures wine and/or pomace brandy from fresh fruits or other agricultural products as allowable by state law. [Amended 5-12-2009]

Public Events / Public Assemblies on Farmland: A special event held on a farm not related to farm activities. Such uses include performing arts and concerts. [Amended 9-22-2009; 8-21-2019]

  1. No more than two events per year shall be permitted; and
  2. no event shall exceed two weeks in duration; and
  3. for events held at Farm Breweries, Farm Distilleries and Farm Wineries, the sale of alcohol and/or serving of alcohol not produced on the farm is permitted for on-site consumption in accordance with the State and County alcohol laws and regulations of the Calvert County Board of License Commissioners; and
  4. Health Department approval is required; and
  5. approval from the Historic District Commission shall be required for properties that are Historically Districted and the requirements of Section 2-10.04 shall apply to those properties; and
  6. approval from the Agricultural Preservation Advisory Board shall be required for properties located in Agricultural Preservation Districts.