At Tuesday’s meeting, the Planning Commission considered if zoning city-wide should be changed to allow for brew pubs, breweries, distilleries and wineries in commercial areas, including land next to residential neighborhoods and the downtown area.
These types of businesses are currently classified as food manufacturers, which limits their locations to industrial zones because of the large production component.
The Planning Commission voted 4 to 1 to recommend the City Council take more precautions if the city is going to embrace this type of business in commercial sectors.
Commissioner Jason Waters was opposed, and said zoning restrictions hurt economic development.
“I’m for growing our local economy, not shrinking it,” Waters said.
If the council overrides the commission’s suggestion and approves the zoning change the new ordinance would state that any production facility producing beer, wine or liquor in a commercial zone would have to be less than 15,000 square feet in size.
The City Council next meets on July 10.
Commissioner John Schupp said he was not opposed to breweries or distilleries, but wanted to know if some of the production could be done outside of the downtown in industrial areas with the final stages of aging and bottling happening near the Square.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Schupp said there was a lack of regulation in the proposed zoning presented by city staff. Schupp asked for more parameters in the zoning law, such as hours of operation for these businesses.
“I would like to see a little more study or thought on the language,” Schupp said.
Commissioner Cheryl Richardson said there are no measures, like limits on the amount of barrels produced, to control odor from this type of manufacturing facility.
“I don’t want to wake up to a brewery that stinks 24 hours a day,” Richardson said. “I would love a brew pub by my house, I would just love not to smell it.”
Georgia has lagged behind other areas of the country that promote local breweries as tourist destinations partially because manufacturers are forced to use a wholesale distributor to sell bottled and canned products to retailers that then offer the beverages to consumers.
Marietta’s further zoning limitation was sighted as a reason a new whiskey manufacturer, Lazy Guy Distillery, located in Kennesaw.
But, Roger Davis, co-owner of Marietta-based Red Hare Brewing Company, said he originally planned to start his business in Kennesaw, but Marietta was much more pleasant to work with when Red Hare opened in the summer of 2011.
“The city of Marietta was great to us,” Davis said.
Red Hare Brewing Company has an 11,000 square foot warehouse located at 1998 Delk Industrial Boulevard near Franklin Road that is open at certain times for tours and tasting.
Davis said Red Hare is no more than five miles from downtown and he does not see an advantage of being on the Square due to parking problems.
Davis said he is also not interested in opening a second tap room in a commercial zone.
A tap room is where patrons come to taste a local brew, but no production is done at the site.
“It would be double the staff, double the overhead, double everything,” Davis said.
Davis said his goal for the Red Hare Brewing Company was to offer Red Hare beer throughout Georgia and the southern part of the United States.
By industry standards, a regional craft brewery produces 15,000 to 6 million beer barrels per year.
A microbrewery has an annual production of less than 15,000 beer barrels.
Davis said operating in a smaller space than what Red Hare currently has, or what he called a “boutique business,” would not be large enough to make a profit.
Commissioner Stephen Diffley told the commission he wanted to speak to an expert in the industry about the entire process of brewing and distilling.
Davis, who did not attend Tuesday’s meeting, said as an owner of the only brewery in Marietta, he was surprised no one has contacted him from the City Council or Planning Committee.