Getting into a Craft-Brewery Zone takes clear communication. “Zoning is used to prevent new development from interfering with existing residents or businesses and to preserve the “character” of a community. Zoning is commonly controlled by local governments such as counties or municipalities.”
Most likely you have probably found the city you would like to operate in, maybe even the street and building. That’s fine, but before negotiating for the property make sure you have a talk with the local Planning Department.
Visit your local municipality and discuss your project with a Planning Department representative, be prepared, if the scope of the work is greater than what they can handle at the counter, they may ask you to make a future appointment.
Asses if the municipality is right for your brewery, we have been in situation where the Planning Department officials are just not friendly to the craft-brewery business. Those cities tend to be small, “dry” cities that have no zone for that particular use. Determine the correct zone for your brewery. Work with your official to locate proper zoning areas, make sure you ask if there are any overlays or permitted areas that they would work with you on to develop a brewery.
Once you have your general information, set forth, and begin your search for that perfect location. After you have found a building you are interested in, head back to the Planning official and have further discussions.
This is the point in which you will start to develop building specific requirements. This is where the real journey begins. Initial discussions of timeline for Planning Department approvals, including Conditional Use Permits (CUP) will be talked about. Cost of permitting and processing through the Planning Department will be discussed. The coordination for the multitude of permits and approval timelines can be costly. Some of these approvals can be worked in parallel to keep costs to a minimum. Having a professional Architect on your team at this stage is critical.
Build a relationship with your Planning Department, you will be working with them often, in the initial phases of pre-construction and during future expansion for your brewery.