Zoning for Small-Scale Alcohol Production

Zoning Practice — March 2014

By David Morley, AICP


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In communities across the country, beer titans like St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch and Chicago-based MillerCoors are facing stiff competition from a host of locally owned and operated craft breweries. Meanwhile, there is parallel growth in craft distilleries and small-volume wineries. While renewed interest in small-scale alcohol production is just one facet of the buy-local movement, it has special relevance for planning and zoning practitioners.

Historically, few communities have used zoning to draw distinctions between alcohol production facilities of different types and sizes. More recently, though, numerous localities have added provisions to their zoning codes that acknowledge the variety of alcohol producers. The primary motivation for these regulatory changes is a desire to make space for smaller producers to operate outside of industrial districts.

This issue of Zoning Practice highlights why the growth in small-scale alcohol production may merit zoning changes and summarizes how communities have amended their codes to add definitions, use permissions, and, in some cases, additional standards to sanction brewpubs and microproducers.


Page Count
Date Published
March 1, 2014
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American Planning Association

About the Author

David Morley, AICP
David Morley, AICP, is a Research Program and QA Manager at the American Planning Association in Chicago, where he manages and contributes to sponsored research projects; manages the development of the Research KnowledgeBase; develops, organizes, and participates in educational sessions and workshops; and writes for APA publications. Mr. Morley also edits Zoning Practice.