Board to discuss possible regulations for micro-distilleries

Published 5:10 pm Monday, September 25, 2017

During its meeting Tuesday, the Washington Planning Board is expected to discuss amending the city’s zoning ordinances to address “proposed new use of Micro-Distilleries” in the city, according to the board’s tentative agenda.

The board meets at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall. The board’s tentative agenda provided no further information, except to note “informational handouts and draft text will be available at meeting.”

On Monday, John Rodman, the city’s director of community and cultural resources, said, “Somebody has expressed an interest in opening up a micro-distillery. … The state of North Carolina has changed some of its legislation on the sale of liquor from distilleries. … When we did microbreweries about a year or so ago, I didn’t even think about distilleries. … They’re going to have some of the same regulations as microbreweries and that sort of thing.”

In October 2014, the council amended the city’s zoning code to allow microbreweries (which make malt beverages) in certain commercial districts. The action came after someone expressed an interest in putting microbrewery in the old Fowle building at the intersection of West Main and Respess streets.

Though a $500,000 grant to help convert a building in downtown Washington into a brewery/restaurant was awarded earlier this year, city officials began preparing for such a facility about three years ago.

New Vision Partners LLC, the grant recipient, had plans to reuse the building that once housed Fowle & Sons General Merchandise. According to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the three-story building, vacant for 40 years, will house Castle Island Brewery. There has been at least one previous attempt to put a brewery of some type in the building.

The board, according to its tentative agenda, is scheduled to discuss possible regulations — for massage parlors and adult businesses — to be added to the city’s zoning ordinances. The agenda notes that informational “handouts will available at meeting).”

During its August meeting, the council, upon City Manager Bobby Roberson’s request, asked the Planning Board to research and develop standards for massage parlors within the city limits.

Massage parlors are not allowed in the city under the city’s current zoning regulations, but they are included in the city code.

“As you will recall, the General Assembly removed the provisions for business privilege licenses and our process requires an applicant to apply for and receive a business privilege license before they can operate their enterprise,” Roberson wrote in a memorandum to the mayor and council members earlier this year. “The provision for massage parlors has become obsolete … and therefore, staff is recommending a revision to our code. Our proposal is to forward a request to the Planning Board and ask that they research the issue and forward a recommendation to City Council for consideration.”

The existing ordinance reads: “No person shall act as a massagist unless such person has first applied for and received the privilege license provided by this section.”


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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