Microbreweries may soon be permitted under the city's zoning code after a Nov. 21 Williams Planning and Zoning Commission decision.
At the meeting, the commission voted unanimously to recommend that the Williams City Council adopt the addition of microbrewery into the zoning code. Chairman Buck Williams and commissioners Gabe Ayala and Greg Brooks were absent.
The city's Chief Building Inspector Tim Pettit explained the reason for the proposed addition.
"Microbreweries have been one of those usages that's popped up in the last two years that are becoming real popular," Pettit said. "And we felt like we needed it in our code."
In the proposed addition, the definition of microbrewery reads, "a business licensed under Title 4 (ARS §4-205.080) to produce more than five thousand (5,000) gallons of beer per calendar year of operation and not to exceed one million two hundred forty thousand (1,240,000) gallons of beer production in a calendar year. It must serve its beers for sampling on the premises, and may also have wholesale and resale privileges for sales of beer produced on the premises subject to limits and conditions stated in said Title 4."
The definition would apply to the central business district zone, which includes most commercial areas of town.
Commissioner Josh Smiley asked if a specific request led to the proposed addition to the code.
City Manager Brandon Buchanan responded by saying, "One specific request brought it to our attention, but part of the reason we're looking at doing it this way is we're able to address it easier if additional ones come in." He did not elaborate on the specific request.
The commission and city staff spoke without using names about the existing brewery in town, Grand Canyon Brewery, potentially moving to a new location.
Pettit said the current brewery was able to operate under the restaurant and eating and drinking establishment zoning categories, with the brewery acting as an accessory usage to the business' main usage.
Vice Chairman John Holst said there are a few issues with the brewery's current location.
"It's unpaved alleys and there's issues with traffic and shipping and semis in the residential portion," he said.
Commissioner Brad Massey, who works for the school district, asked about the possible new location of the brewery.
"My thought is it's right next to the school," he said. "And it says 'must serve beers for sampling on the premises.' This evidently isn't close enough to the school that it's even an issue?"
Buchanan said it wouldn't be an issue since the proposed addition to the code meets the regulations of the state liquor board. He also reminded the commission that "in that existing building that you're mentioning (the possible new location), there's been a bar for I don't know how many years."
If the brewery decided to operate out of the existing and potential new location, it would be required to offer samplings at both locations under the proposed microbrewery definition.
According to Pettit, the brewery in town currently produces about 100,000 gallons of beer. Commissioner Harry Schmitz observed that under the proposed addition to the zoning code, the brewery would be able to produce as much as 10 times its current amount of beer.
"But for perspective though, 1.2 million is somewhere right around where Sam Adams is...right now," Buchanan said. "And that's obviously a national well-known brand."
When Schmitz asked about any complaints regarding the current brewery location, Pettit said he's only received trash complaints. Without hearing any other negative impacts, Schmitz said he had no objections to the addition to the code.
After the meeting, Buchanan explained why the commissioners and city staff chose to conduct the meeting without using the name of the brewery or potential new location.
"It's just part of economic development and letting them make those kind of announcements," he said. "I don't want to speak on behalf of the brewery."
The Williams City Council will put on a public hearing about the addition of microbrewery to the zoning code on Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers, 113 S. First St. The full proposed amendment is available at city hall and online at www.williamsaz.gov.