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When Scott Taylor learned that games, live music, food trucks and televisions were banned from Young Veterans Brewing Company by the United States Navy, he decided to try to do something about it.
Taylor, a former Navy SEAL and current United States representative-elect for Virginia’s second congressional district, stopped by the brewery Monday afternoon, hours after Southside Daily published a story about the business being negatively impacted by a Navy restrictive use easement.
“We gave him a beer. He drank a Pineapple Grenade,” said brewery owner and Army Veteran Thomas Wilder.
Taylor said he believes the Navy is being “hyper-sensitive” about the easement, which was purchased by the United States for $900,000 in June 1983 and limits activities allowed on about 219 acres of land near Naval Air Station Oceana.
The brewery, located at 2505 Horse Pasture Road, is built on a parcel of land designated for manufacturing and retail sales.
The easement states that recreational and amusement facilities are prohibited from the land, “including but not limited to movie houses, theaters, athletic clubs.”
Citing that language, Navy officials have banned Wilder and McCannon from allowing games like checkers, chess and cornhole, as well as live music, televised sports games and food trucks at their brewery.
If they do, the brewery will be considered out of compliance with the easement and the Navy will likely seek litigation, according to a Sept. 26 letter sent to the brewery by U.S. Navy Captain R. J. Meadows.
After chatting with Wilder and his partner, Neil McCanon, Taylor said he reached out to the Navy and spoke with real estate easement contractor Paul Moomaw. Taylor and Moomaw plan to meet next week with Navy legislative affairs representatives in tow to hash out the details of the easement and see if there’s room for compromise.
“I don’t think the Navy is out to get anybody, but sometimes when you have such a behemoth federal organization even little things are really impactful against private citizens,” Taylor said.
“That’s where I come in,” he added. “Navigating between those things and making sure the little guy is dealt with reasonably. I think a few of these things were unreasonable.”
While Taylor understands the Navy’s concerns about encroachment on Oceana and protecting citizens in the event of a jet crash, he also believes the organization is over-reaching in their interpretation of the easement’s language.
“I understand the Navy’s concern about having outdoor parties and bringing bands in, but at the same time dinging them for having… a TV inside is overbearing,” Taylor said. “If there were a carpet distributor there, I’d have a TV.”
Wilder said he didn’t anticipate being in the public eye after the brewery’s story was originally published, but he’s thankful for the support he and McCanon have received since it went public. The pair are hopeful that with Taylor’s help they can find middle ground with the Navy.
“It was really cool to see him, and really cool to meet him there. It’s great to know we had somebody of his status on our side ready to help,” Wilder said. “The overwhelming support for our situation has been pretty breath taking.”
Representatives from the United States Navy did not respond immediately to a request for comment from Southside Daily.
Mayfield can be reached at 352-431-9612.