MERIDEN — City officials want to make Meriden a stop along the state’s brewery trail by taking the first steps toward eliminating obstacles for developers.
“Breweries in general are still hot,” said Economic Development Director Joseph Feest. “Why not include it in our bag of tricks? The trails for breweries are something people do, so why not put Meriden on the trail map? You have to get the groundwork ready for them.”
Last week, the Planning Commission approved changes in zoning laws that would define the use of breweries, brew pubs and brew pub-restaurants.
A public hearing before the City Council’s Economic Development, Housing and Zoning Committee is tentatively set for Nov. 19. The City Council would ultimately need to approve any changes.
The move is intended to allow the brewing, sale and consumption of beer in the downtown transit-oriented-district, while allowing brewing, retail and tastings in manufacturing and industrial zones. Brewpubs and brewpub restaurants would be allowed in commercial zones.New regulations
City Planner Renata Bertotti drafted the changes after being approached by a property owner considering a brewery.
“This is a use that is currently not defined or expressly permitted in any zone under the current regulations,” Bertotti said. “A downtown property owner mentioned this as being one of the future considerations he had for his property. I decided to propose the regulation amendment ... in case he comes forward with the development proposal, the regulations are not an obstacle.”
The new regulations define a “brewery” as a facility where beer is manufactured, stored, bottled and sold wholesale or retail in sealed containers for consumption off premises or offered for on-premises tastings.
Brewpub is defined as a facility where beer is manufactured, stored, bottled, sold at wholesale or at retail in sealed bottles or other sealed containers for consumption off premises or sold to be consumed on the premises in a room that is ancillary to the production of beer, with or without the sale of food.
A brewpub restaurant is defined as a restaurant where beer is manufactured, stored, bottled and sold to be consumed on the premises.
Under the proposed changes, all three uses are allowed in the city’s transit oriented-district and brewpub and brewpub restaurants are allowed in most commercial districts.
Breweries and brewpubs would be allowed in research and development and manufacturing districts, industrial districts, and planned industrial districts. Brewpubs and brewpub restaurants would be allowed in a neighborhood commercial, or a C-4 district with a special exception. Possible locations
Feest would like to see several brewery operations in the downtown TOD. He feels 21-23 Colony St. with rear windows overlooking the train station and the Meriden Green, and 61 Colony St., the former Catholic Family Services building, would be ideal. He is also optimistic about space on the other side of the Meriden Green, where the new Mr. Taco opened and a warehouse was rehabbed on Miller Street.
“I would love to get six of them who want to work in co-working space,” Feest said.
Feest envisions visitors taking the train from New Haven to Hartford, stopping in Wallingford and Meriden, to visit breweries.Future plans
The city has one licensed brewery operating out of a converted mudroom in a Ridgewood Road home.
Gary Krock, who has a full-time job, opened Lost Tourist Brewery and sells his ales and lagers at various venues, including Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford, home of the Yard Goats.
Krock would eventually like to open a taproom downtown that includes wine and cider, and city officials have shown him what’s available.
The proposed zone changes will make the process easier when he’s ready, he said.
“My future plans, if everything goes well, is to open a taproom with a larger system,” he said. “But I’m still relatively new in the market, I’m still trying to push the product.”
The proposed regulations would let developers and investors know the city welcomes brewers, Krock said.