Smyrna Town Council voted down a zoning amendment Monday night that would’ve enabled breweries to be in the Smyrna Business Park.
The measure was voted down by a vote of 4-3; Councilwoman Valerie White, Councilman Robert Johnson, Councilman Tony DeFeo and Councilman John Embert voted against the zoning amendment.
The zoning ordinance amendment would’ve allowed for craft distillery and microbrewery establishments and ancillary activities as a conditional use in the “Industrial/Office/Research Park District.” The public hearing for the proposed zoning amendment was held at the May 7 council meeting; however, council tabled voting on the measure until Monday night.
While the zoning amendment would’ve allowed for any business to apply for conditional use for the business park, the work on the ordinance was done after Smyrna resident Ron Price expressed interest in opening Warlock Brewing in town.
Councilwoman Valerie White said she had some concerns with the proposed zoning amendment. First she said Planning & Zoning did not bless the amendment with a unanimous vote, plus she was concerned with the number of zoning changes that have been made at the business park on Artisan Drive; she said this ordinance would be the tenth zoning ordinance change at the park.
Town Manager Dave Hugg said a location in the business park fits the needs of the microbrewery due to the height of the building, which is town-owned. He said if there was a building that met the height specifications in town in the Central Commercial District, which already houses a craft distillery, than the company may have considered opening up shop in town.
Then several council members raised concerns with the idea of consumption on site.
“This is a business model that is popping up across the country exactly like the proposal we have here,” Hugg said. “It’s the same model as Dogfish Head, Old Dominion and Fordham where people go in to see exactly what the business makes.”
Interim Smyrna Police Chief Norman Wood said he contacted Milford Police regarding Mispillion River Brewing, which is located in a business park.
“They said they haven’t had any problems and it isn’t a place where people who would over-consume go,” Wood said. “They like the location and haven’t had any problems.”
Ultimately council voted down the zoning amendment. DeFeo said he voted no because of the recommendation of Planning & Zoning. Planning & Zoning had previously voted to send the ordinance to council without the support of the commission; the commissioners didn’t agree with putting a microbrewery in the business park when it’s allowed in the Central Commercial District in town.
Later on in the meeting, the voting down of the zoning amendment was brought back up by Hugg, who thought council sent forth the wrong message by voting down the measure.
“If we’re going to be a leader in economic development we need to do what will separate us from Smyrna just being a place on Route 13. We can’t fall back on what we’ve always done,” Hugg said. “We need to market Smyrna as a place where new business can come in and exist. We need to separate us from the rest of the crowd.”