In response to requests from prospective operators of breweries, the Charlotte City Council has passed new rules making it easier for beer manufacturers to open.
The most recent change, approved unanimously Monday, allows breweries to open in urban zoning districts such as mixed-use development and transit-oriented development areas. The breweries had previously been only allowed in industrial areas, and city staff said that restriction made it too difficult to open.
“We have anywhere from seven to 10 breweries looking at different locations, primarily in Plaza-Midwood and South End,” said Bridget Dixon with the city’s planning department. “They couldn’t go in those areas.”
The breweries are allowed to have a “tap room” or adjacent bar to sell their beers. They are also allowed to sell off site, in places such as grocery stores.
The new rules encourage breweries to open in existing buildings, though that is not a requirement. The maximum size for a brewery is 15,000 square feet. Larger breweries are only allowed if they are re-using buildings built before 1980.
The previous rules allowed so-called “brew pubs” to operate in non-industrial areas. A brew pub – such as Heist Brewery in NoDa – is primarily considered a restaurant.
Todd Ford, a co-owner of NoDa Brewing Company on North Davidson Street, applauded the change. He said the new regulations won’t impact his business, unless he decides to move.
But he said the changes would encourage growth of microbreweries, which would increase awareness of the trend.
Having people make craft beer has driven tourism in places like Asheville, Ford said.
“There has been a big change from the public viewpoint about breweries,” he said. “And the city had been a little slow to realize that.”
NoDa Brewery opened in October 2011.
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