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Following a May 17 public hearing, the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) unanimously approved a special zoning permit to convert a vacant industrial building at 57-B Church Hill Road into a brewery, which also would function as a brewpub, allowing patrons to buy beer for consumption there or off the premises.
Voting in favor of the application submitted by Reverie Brewing Company LLC, were P&Z Chairman Don Mitchell, Jim Swift, Barbara Manville, Roy Meadows, and David Rosen.
In their approval, P&Z members found that the project is consistent with the 2014 Town Plan of Conservation and Development. As conditions of the approval, the applicant must provide proof of a final agreement with the owner of adjacent property for parking spaces to be used by brewpub patrons, and also must obtain town approvals for a commercial sign for the building, an advertising sign near Church Hill Road, and signs which direct motorists to parking areas. The 0.78-acre site has no road frontage. The building is set back about 600 feet from Church Hill Road.
At an initial May 3 public hearing, P&Z members had told Reverie representatives that they expected the brewpub venture would be successful and thus would require more than the 19 parking spaces which the firm had then proposed near the 5,853-square-foot building, which will be redeveloped as a brewery and taproom.
On May 3, the firm had explained that several additional spaces would be available for the brewpub at Newtown Hardware at 61 Church Hill Road, but P&Z members then said that yet more spaces would be necessary.
On May 17, Ryan Broderick, Reverie’s president, told P&Z members that a neighboring industrial property owner, Wilnin Capital LLC, has agreed to rent 29 nearby parking spaces to Reverie. Overall, the Reverie building would have the use of about 55 parking spaces, Mr Broderick told P&Z members.
The unadorned building that Reverie would occupy was built in 1953. It has been used for auto repair and is in a M-5 (Industrial) zone. Recently, the building had been used as a garage for a construction/landscaping company. The building is owned by a firm known as ITH LLC.
Mr Mitchell stressed to Mr Broderick and Frank Lockwood, also of Reverie, the magnitude of the project they are planning.
“This is a big investment,” Mr Mitchell said. In early May, Mr Broderick had said that under the best of circumstances, the brewery would open in about four to five months.
Although the firm explained how it had expanded its planned parking, Mr Swift said, “I’m still concerned about the parking… If you are wildly successful, you could wind up with too few parking spaces.” Mr Swift also said he was concerned about whether the rented parking spaces would be permanently available to Reverie.
Rob Manna, the owner of 57-B Church Hill Road, told P&Z members that the arrangement for rented parking spaces had fulfilled the P&Z’s May 3 requirement for additional parking for the brewpub.
Christal Preszler, town deputy director of economic and community development, told P&Z members, “This (brewpub) is exactly what we want to see come to Newtown.” The building to be used would be physically improved, she said. The presence of such a business would attract people from elsewhere to Newtown, she added.
Following a public hearing earlier this month, P&Z members approved new zoning regulations that would allow one food truck to park outside a brewery on Fridays through Sundays to offer prepared food to people patronizing a brewpub there. The food truck’s presence would be allowed as an accessory use to the brewpub under the terms of a special zoning permit. Such food truck operators would require approvals from the town Health Department and from the owner of the brewpub to sell food. The food truck accessory use also applies to distilleries.
Brewpubs and distilleries typically do not serve food, so creating new zoning regulations on food trucks as an accessory use at brewpubs/distilleries allows patrons to have prepared food with their drinks.
In September 2017, the P&Z approved zoning regulations that allow brewpubs and distilleries as permitted land uses. Under the terms of the brewpub regulations, such facilities are allowed to manufacture, package, and store beer.
Mr Broderick has said the facility would be a “community-focused brewery” intended to engender a sense of community among its patrons. The craft beer manufactured would be a high quality beverage produced by a well-managed company, according to Mr Broderick. Tours of the facility would be provided.
There would be seating for about 30 patrons in the taproom, which would have ten taps. The firm’s goal is to produce about 2,000 barrels of beer in its first year.
Having received the zoning approval, the firm would now prepare for the delivery and installation of various brewing equipment.