Amended zoning regulations allow for micro-distillery project

Published 6:01 pm Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Washington’s City Council voted 4-1 Monday night to amend the city’s zoning regulations to allow a micro-distillery in the former Bank of America building at the intersection of West Main and North Respess streets.

There is a chance the council might have to amend those zoning regulations again for the proposed distillery to become a reality. The amended regulations prohibit a micro-distillery within 200 feet of a church. Councilman Doug Mercer, who voted against amending the regulations, noted there is a church in the former Edward Ray Edwards insurance office between Respess Street and Union Alley and behind the former Bank of America building. He wondered if the church is closer than 200 feet from that building.

Mercer said if the church were closer than 200 feet to the building, those council members supporting the micro-distillery project would have to remove that distance prohibition or lessen it for the project to proceed. That would require another amendment of the zoning regulations.

John B. Tate III, chairman of the city’s Planning Board, said the distance restriction was discussed by the board when it discussed rules regarding distilleries and micro-distilleries in the city. Tate said he believes the church is not within 200 feet of the former Bank of America building.

City officials plan to determine if the church is within 200 feet of former bank building. That determination will play a role in whether another amendment to the zoning regulations is needed for the micro-distillery project to move forward.

In a related matter, the council approved a resolution supporting an application seeking grant funds from the North Carolina Main Street Solutions Fund and designated agents to oversee the grant application process. The Main Street Solutions Fund is a program designed to provide economic development planning assistance and coordinated grant support to designated municipalities with Main Street programs. The Main Street Solutions Fund, a highly competitive program, provides up to $200,000 to qualified local governments, according to John Rodman, the city’s community and cultural resources director.

The city plans to use the grant funding to assist The Hackney Distillery LLC (Nick and Suzanne Sanders in rehabilitating the former bank building, into a distillery, destination restaurant and boutique hotel.

Nick Sanders, who recently moved from London to Washington with his wife, Suzanne, told the council that growth of the distillery and micro-distillery industry is a “global trend.” Sanders said he is ready to commit $775,000 in addition to grant funding to rehabilitate the former bank building. He also said The Hackney Distillery LLC would provide any matching funds the grant provisions would require.

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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