City planners discuss proposed brewery restrictions

Star-News (Wilmington, NC), 2014-07-31


July 31 --Proposals to ease restrictions on breweries in Wilmington will once again be considered by the city's planning commission.

On Wednesday, the planning commission held an hourlong work session to discuss the city-initiated proposal ahead of its Aug. 6 meeting.

The matter was on the agenda for its July meeting, but the commission continued a vote to hold a work session. Bruce McGuire , a member of the commission, asked for the delay, in part, due to concerns about how breweries would mesh with the downtown area.

Yet since the July 9 meeting, McGuire recused himself from both Wednesday's work session and a future vote on the matter, Deb Hays , the board's chairwoman, announced Wednesday. Another member, Paul Boney , also recused himself after the July 9 meeting.

On Wednesday, Walter Pete Avery asked why the men wanted to be recused now. Assistant City Attorney Amy Schaefer said information came forward after the initial hearing and, upon further reflection and review, they needed to recuse themselves.

After a staff presentation, commission members discussed some aspects of the proposal but took no vote. Avery and Dan Dawson said they thought the proposed changes were complicated, although at the end of the session Avery said he felt better about them.

Breweries are not a permitted use under the city's land development. Last year, craft breweries interested in locating in Wilmington ran into confusion, according to Phil Prete , a senior city planner. Easing restrictions on the breweries could benefit the city, with businesses filling vacant buildings, he has said.

City planners want to add definitions for a brewery, small regional brewery and microbrewery to the city code.

Under the proposed rules, a brewery would be 75,000 square feet and up and would continue to be allowed in parts of the city under zoning districts known for manufacturing-type uses. A small regional brewery could not exceed 75,000 square feet. A microbrewery could not exceed 25,000 square feet.

Planners want to allow both regional breweries and microbreweries under the following zoning districts: regional business; central business district; commercial services; urban mixed use.

Additionally, microbreweries would be allowed in the community business, mixed use, and riverfront mixed-use districts. The breweries would be subject to a number of detailed conditions depending on the zoning district.

The matter is on the agenda for the commission's 6 p.m. meeting on Aug. 6 at city hall at 102 N. Third St. The city council will have the final say on whether the changes are approved.

Julian March : 343-2099

On Twitter : @julian_march

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