The City of Cartersville Planning Commission voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon to push discussions of a staff-initiated text amendment concerning microbreweries to the board's next meeting.
"The city council and alcohol control board are currently grappling over several changes to the alcohol ordinance," said Randy Mannino, the city's director of planning and development. "Some may affect this, some may not. They're talking about entertainment zones and a lot of other things. This particular one is based on language — currently, we do not allow microbreweries in the city, so that is the main reason for this proposed text amendment."
The text amendment, Mannino said, would create new definitions of microbreweries, breweries and distilleries for the city code and "secondarily, say where they would be allowed."
Mannino said after discussing the possible changes with Mayor Matt Santini, it was decided that if microbreweries are allowed to operate in the city, they should do so under special-use permits.
"Every individual request for say, a microbrewery, would come before [the planning commission] as a special-use permit recommendation to council," Mannino said. "And council would have an opportunity to see it."
City attorney Keith Lovell noted that, technically, microbreweries already are allowed in some parts of the city — albeit, with a caveat.
"Microbreweries could actually go in the city in industrial right now," he said. "But they wouldn't be allowed to have their serving component like they want."
Lovell described what makes a microbrewery, definitionally, different from a brewpub.
"A microbrewery is a place designed to make beer and may have food sales," he said. "You can only sell what you brew ... and there are certain gallon limits. You have to brew less than 15,000 barrels a year, I think."
That differs, he said, from the city's use of "amenity licenses."
"There's a specific ordinance for them just like there is for pubs," he said. "Basically, it's a license where we allow you to have an alcohol license, which is secondary to your primary commercial business."
Some of the specific special-use conditions that tie into proposed microbrewery developments, Lovell said, include things like distance requirements, parking space minimums and lighting and security standards.
"Since the standards for the special-use are not before ya'll or part of your packets, you might want to just table this until the next meeting," he said. "You may want to add other ones or take some away. And the standards may be different in the different zoning categories. You may decide, like, the DBD parking is irrelevant, because nobody has their own parking in the downtown business district. But in a general commercial area, you may want them to have 'x' number of parking spaces or other things like that."
Still, Mannino said the text amendment alone would not be enough to guarantee a microbrewery applicant foams to fruition.
"If this went through, it would still have to go be approved through the alcohol control board to be able to do sales without meeting the food sales requirements," he said.
Planning commission board member Stephen Smith said, if permitted by the city, microbreweries could prove a boon to the local economy.
"These old, downtown buildings need this," he said.
The next City of Cartersville Planning Commission meeting is scheduled Nov. 6 at 5:30 p.m. at 10 North Public Square.