Council could revisit regulations regarding micro-distilleries in city

Published 10:47 pm Monday, December 4, 2017


Washington’s Planning Board recommends the City Council adopt minor revisions to the zoning regulations governing micro-distilleries in the city.

The council could approve those modifications during its meeting Monday. John Rodman, the city’s director of community and cultural resources, said the Planning Board, during its Nov. 28 meeting, reviewed proposed changes to the zoning regulations that were developed by city staff and forwarded to the board for consideration. The board’s discussion focused on 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.

Upon council’s direction, city staff, including City Manager Bobby Roberson and City Attorney Franz Holscher, developed the material sent to the board for review. “We sort of cleaned the ordinance up,” Rodman said Monday. The proposed changes to the zoning regulations include removing the distance provision approved by the council at its Nov. 6 meeting.

“We made some clarifications and addressed some of the gray areas,” Rodman said.

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.

Glenn Moore, a city planner, told the board earlier this year the number of micro-distilleries in the state increased from13 in 2013 to 40 in 2017. “It’s a growing use we don’t address at all in our ordinances,” Moore said then.




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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