The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department has sponsored a process to review the city’s zoning ordinances for microbreweries. The first meeting, which I attended, was held at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center on January 8. In attendance were owners from such current Charlotte breweries as NoDa Brewing, The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, Triple C Brewing and Heist Brewery. Also at the meeting were aspiring owners from Free Range Brewing and The Unknown Brewing Company, both of which are currently looking for locations in Charlotte (Free Range in Plaza Midwood, Unknown in SouthEnd).
We began the meeting with this presentation led by Bridget Dixon, who talked about how microbreweries are currently zoned (I-1 and I-2, with “I” here standing for industrial). The industrial zoning requires that the brewery taprooms must be 400′ from residential districts. Many bars and restaurants, of course, can be closer to residences than this, though in many cases they see more traffic than a brewery. For this meeting, though, we only discussed the brewery-side of things. Taproom zoning will be discussed in the review of restaurants, nightclubs, bars and lounge zoning (which also has implications in the Charlotte beer scene and is worth your time; the next meeting for this is on Jan. 24).
At this meeting, we talked about how other cities zone for microbreweries, which is often by the brewery’s production volume and sometimes by the size of the building. After the presentation, the room was divided into three groups so that we could discuss a variety of questions related to microbreweries (most of which can be found in the image on the left). You can also read the thoughts from each of the groups in the meeting’s minutes. I encourage you to read through this to see how the three groups attempted to define microbreweries. It was obvious that even those few people in the room that didn’t work for the breweries were still, for the most part, big fans of our city’s beer scene.
These zoning ordinances may prevent breweries like Free Range and The Unknown Brewing Company from securing their first choice of locations. It’s important that we are all part of the discussion to ensure the zoning ordinances that apply to microbreweries in Charlotte make sense. It’s not too late to get involved. The next meeting is from 6-7:30 p.m. on January 29 at NoDa Brewing. RSVP to bdixon@charlotteNC.gov if you would like to attend and be a part of the Citizen Advisory Group.