Last fall, council members looked at updating the city’s code to allow microbreweries, distilleries and wineries to operate on or near the Marietta Square.
City Council ultimately decided to loosen its restrictions that originally only allowed breweries to operate in areas categorized as light industrial. Now, the businesses can open in other areas considered to be commercial.
By industry standards, a microbrewery can produce up to 15,000 barrels of beer a year.
On Wednesday, the council considered adopting another ordinance to allow businesses that sell alcohol to host tastings and to allow the establishment of wine-only stores.
No decisions were made, and the council’s next voting meeting is set for April 9 at 7 p.m.
Businesses that sell growlers, which are jugs filled with draft beer and sealed on site, rely on tastings to make money.
Georgia has lagged behind other states that have changed their laws to become more inviting for local craft breweries, which often become tourist destinations. Now, local governments are faced with the challenge of fostering the growth of the industry while protecting nearby residences.
“The industry is growing and cities are forced to find how to be responsible but also be open to these types of commercial business,” said Councilman Stuart Fleming.
There’s a desire, Fleming said, from the business community to explore opening more craft brewing businesses.
Councilman Grif Chalfant also said it’s all part of nurturing a niche industry that hasn’t previously had a presence in Marietta.
“I think this would accommodate a new little industry that is growing,” Chalfant said. “It’s just a new aspect that wasn’t even in business a few years ago. Now a lot of people are interested in home brewing of their own.”
He says a business owner has approached the city with plans to open a business teaching individuals how to brew their own beer.
“They’re very interested in going in over on Whitlock Avenue,” Chalfant said.
Seeking a consistent approach
Chalfant said City Council has been inconsistent in how it has addressed tastings in the past.
“We’re allowing wine tastings right now, and I think that’s sort of outside of our ordinances, but we’ve addressed some people and turned them down and some people we’ve let do it. So I think we’ve got to be consistent and address it on a new ordinance,” Chalfant said.
City Council may also need to address a portion of its alcohol code that requires businesses be 300 feet from a college campus when selling beer and wine or 600 feet away when selling liquor.
That hasn’t been a problem in the past, said Brian Binzer, director of development services for the city, but a master plan created by the city, Southern Polytechnic University and Life University encourages bringing the campuses closer to Cobb Parkway.
The master plan also encourages a mixture of development including student housing, restaurants and retail along the Cobb Parkway corridor near the universities to create a college town feel.