Micro breweries and distilleries shutout of downtown due to zoning rules

Augusta, Georgia Seal graphic
Augusta, Georgia Seal graphic

AUGUSTA,Ga (WJBF)  Lisa Westbrook and her dog moved downtown a little more than a year ago and she says she would welcome craft beer or spirit makers to the neighborhood.

“Yes I think it would help economics here weekends are pretty business downtown a lot of people frequent downtown during the weekends and I think it would be a good idea,” said Westbrook.

Augusta leaders would like to see something to help make Broad Street hop for visitors.

“We need to look at downtown on Broad Street we’ve got two hotels coming in the near future we have all these people coming in and we have to have something for them to do,” said Commissioner Sean Frantom.

The Riverwatch Brewery open earlier this year’s it’s not on Broad Street, that’s because current city zoning laws only allows micro-breweries and distilleries in industrial areas.

“Why can’t Augusta get with it we need them we got to fix our ordinances we have one that’s set up by the fairgrounds that’s where they had to set up because of our ordinances that’s not right.,” said Frantom.

But would Broad Street be the right fit for a brewery or distillery Former Mayor Deke Copenhaver says it would be if the rules changed to allow it.

“My office is right here on Broad Street I think it’s a great idea these things are thriving in cities across the United States so I applaud the idea,” said Copenhaver.

There is an ongoing effort to bring more business to downtown now the city is looking at easing the restrictions on distilleries  and breweries does that mean there somebody interested in bringing that type of business downtown?

“Leaders have contacted me there’s others looking to move to Broad Street we have to get our act together on the ordinances first,” said Frantom.

‘So the current state of the ordinance is preventing possible business coming in?”

“Absolutely,” said Frantom.

Riverwatch Brewery owner Bray Sloan says she would have loved to set up downtown, City planners say micro-breweries and distilleries can locate downtown if they also have restaurant.

Commissioners are scheduled to discuss the zoning at a committee meeting on Monday.

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