Proposed microbrewery gains backing

April 26, 1994|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Sun Staff Writer

Mount Airy Firehouse Beer came a step closer to reality last night as the town Planning and Zoning Commission voted to recommend allowing the proposed microbrewery as a special exception.

The proposal will be considered by the town's Board of Special Appeals at a public hearing May 9.

Robert Hilton, agent for the still-unidentified buyer, said the potential brew master intends to open a restaurant-brewery in time for the town's Fall Festival in October. State laws require microbreweries to have a restaurant on site, and beer they brew may be sold only at the restaurant or to a distributor.

The Mount Airy proposal was approved by the General Assembly.

Mr. Hilton said the potential buyer is a former Mount Airy resident who owns a home on Main Street. The man left town eight months ago and intends to live in the old firehouse until the lease is up on his current home in about 1 1/2 years.

The sales contract on the former firehouse, which may be signed before the May 9 meeting, is contingent on Board of Zoning Appeals approval, Mr. Hilton said.

"There is an economic feasibility involved in that he can't do this if he can't make money at the end," Mr. Hilton said, noting that expensive town mandates may harm the project. "This has a kill point to it."

Teresa Bamberger, the town planner, said the town needed to create a special exception because there are no provisions for microbreweries in the zoning ordinance.

After studying the only other microbrewery she knows of in the state, Baltimore Brewing Co., her only concerns were deliveries and odors.

But when she studied it, she said she found that the deliveries would be no more frequent than any other commercial use would require.

The only discernible odor would be a "bakery-like" smell, which is usually not noticeable, outside the building, she said.

Mash, a byproduct of the brewing process, may smell after a period of time, but most brewers contain that by having it removed every day, she said.

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