Microbreweries could soon have a home in Clinton, with several inquiries and at least one interested company prompting city officials to consider the matter.
The city does not currently have a definition for microbreweries in its Land Development Ordinance (LDO). Planning staff has had several inquiries about the possibility of microbreweries in Clinton, however without a definition in the ordinance, the city would have to find the closest use when deciding on zoning and permitting.
By creating a definition, the city can apply specific zoning and permitting rules for microbreweries as well as detail provisions for microbreweries and distilleries. To that end, the City Council will hold public hearings at its meeting this Tuesday, May 3, on text amendments to define microbrewery and include it as a permitted use in the Clinton Land Development Ordinance.
As proposed, microbrewery would be defined as a facility in which beer is brewed for distribution and consumption, and which possesses the appropriate license from the State of North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission. Associated tasting rooms or restaurants for the consumption of on-site produced beer products are permitted on the premises.
Based on research of other communities, city staff presented a proposed definition as well as permitting recommendations to the Planning Board of conditional use for NS-Neighborhood Shopping zoning, and permitted use for CB-Central Business, HC-Highway Commercial, and I-1 Light Industrial zoning.
The Planning and Zoning Board recommended approval of both. City manager Shawn Purvis is expected to similarly offer his recommendation to Council on Tuesday.
Clinton-Sampson Planning director Mary Rose reiterated to the Planning Board during its recent meeting that only beer that is produced on the site of the microbrewery would be available for sale and consumption on site.
One particular company is already soliciting the public’s support to include microbreweries.
Members of Grog Row Brewing Company told the Independent at the end of last year about their hope to set up a taproom in downtown Clinton featuring locally-crafted beers.
“Vance Street back in the day was called Grog Row,” said Trey Cummings, explaining the origin of the company name. Grog Row, the former Vance Street, is believed to have gotten its name by being home to a number of watering holes in bygone years.
“It’s going to be a real throwback to the way things used to be,” he remarked, “which is kind of the way they’re going now with all these small towns having their own little brewery.”
People in western Sampson County will drive to Fayetteville in a heartbeat to spend money, he said. Similarly, those in the northern end will go to Raleigh, just like residents in the southern and eastern end will travel to Goldsboro or Wilmington.
“We need to give them a reason to come into town instead of leave town,” Cummings remarked. “We think this can be one of those reasons.”
Cummings, wife Kristen, and several others make up the team trying to bring that to fruition.
“We are just a home brew team with a passion for craft beer and a desire to see a brewery come to Clinton,” Grog Row Brewing Company explained on its Facebook page. “This isn’t just about us. Clinton has a master plan that actually includes things like second-floor residential and a brewery in the downtown area. Council is simply voting on a change to the city ordinances to allow breweries.”
They asked that everyone help them in rallying support for the measure, posting the names of everyone on the Council.
“Now’s the time to call, email, tweet and hug your City Council representative and show your support to get us one step closer to opening a local brewery.”
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.