Change could facilitate micro-distillery proposal

Published 6:09 pm Friday, November 24, 2017

During its meeting Tuesday, Washington’s Planning Board is scheduled to discuss a possible amendment to the city’s zoning regulations regarding micro-distilleries.

The amendment discussion is the only item of business listed on the tentative agenda, other than approval of the minutes of the board’s October meeting.

John Rodman, the city’s director of community and cultural resources, said the discussion would center around modifying an amendment the City Council approved Nov. 6, when it modified 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.

The amended regulations prohibit a micro-distillery within 200 feet of a church. At the Nov. 6 meeting, 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, he said.

“We just want to clean it up a little bit, make sure there’s no gray area and that sort of thing,” Rodman said about issue. “We’re just trying to clean it up a little bit.”

If the Planning Board develops a proposed amendment, it would forward it to the City Council for consideration and possible action.

The city plans to use the up to $200,000 in 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 agreement 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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