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Sussex Countian
  • Georgetown to consider new zoning rules for breweries such as 16 Mile

  • Georgetown is home to one of the state's most successful microbreweries, although the town's zoning code does not account for brewery operations. Town council will discuss a proposal at its Wednesday evening meeting that would allow brewing operations in several existing zoning districts without requiring a conditional use permit.
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  • Georgetown is home to one of the state's most successful microbreweries, although the town's zoning code does not account for brewery operations.
    As a result, 16 Mile Brewery owners Brett McCrea and Chad Campbell were required to seek a conditional use permit from town council before they could open their business at 413 S. Bedford St. in 2009.
    Approval of that permit came with several requirements regarding the brewery plant's use, operation, hours, parking and odors.
    Over the years, council has voted several times to amend those requirements at 16 Mile's request.
    BACKGROUND
    The owners of 16 Mile last requested changes to their conditional use permit in May.
    McCrea and Campbell said they wanted to grow their popular business and asked to extend their hours of production and public tours and increase the number of permissible employees. They also sought to change language in the permit that regulated the types of odors that could be produced.
    Several of the brewery's neighbors, particularly residents of the nearby Park Avenue, initially voiced opposition to the requested changes, particularly the proposed wording that would have changed an existing ban on "noxious and offensive odors" to only "harmful" odors.
    After tabling a scheduled vote on the requested amendment so council members could tour 16 Mile, Georgetown Town Council voted June 27 to allow the brewery to extend its hours and hire more employees, but balked on changing the odor requirements.
    Following their vote, councilmembers directed Town Manager Gene Dvornick and Town Solicitor Stephanie Ballard to develop a proposal that would address the zoning code's silence on brewery operations.
    "We must take into careful consideration what [16 Mile owner Bruce McCrea] has stated as his immediate expansion requirements and act proactively to create a permanent solution that addresses the inherent deficiencies in the current zoning district," Town Councilwoman Linda Dennis said at the time.
    WHAT'S NEXT
    Dvornick and Ballard will present their proposed remedy to Town Council at its Wednesday meeting.
    If adopted, the proposal would allow brewing operations in several existing zoning districts without requiring a conditional use permit.
    The difference between the uses would be based on the size of and type of the operation. Brewpubs, defined as restaurant/bars that brew beer as an accessory use, and microbreweries, defined as breweries that produce no more than 15,000 barrels per year, would be allowed in six zoning classifications, including urban and neighborhood business districts, limited and light industrial districts and historic districts. Meanwhile, breweries that produce more than 15,000 barrels a year would only be allowed in limited and light industrial districts.
    16 Mile, which is in the process of upgrading to produce 4,200 barrels a year, would be able to more than triple its production at its current location without any additional approval from town council under the proposed changes, Dvornick said.
    Page 2 of 2 - "The whole intent was to preclude any need to rezone the 16 Mile property," he said. "We essentially would be adding permitted uses that are already there."
    If the zoning changes are approved, 16 Mile would still be required to adhere to the existing odor controls spelled out in its conditional use permit, Dvornick said.
    After it is heard by town council tonight, the proposal is expected to be sent to the town planning commission for review. Following a public hearing, the planning commission would forward its recommendations to council for a final vote, possibly later this fall.
    Email Scott Goss at scott@sussexcountian.com

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