City Inches Forward With Beer-Friendly Zoning Rules

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Wouldn't it be nice if you had a magic wand you could wave and -- voila -- a keg or three of small-batch craft beer from a local microbrewery. The city of Dallas is working on its own version of the trick which, this being the city, happens in slow motion as it requires approval from several layers of bureaucracy, but still: Beer!

The City Council's Economic Development Committee will hear in about an hour about proposed changes to the city's development code that will allow microbreweries and wineries to operate in places where one might expect a microbrewery or winery to operate.

Up 'til now, the only place one can establish a brewery of any sort is in an industrial area ("alcoholic beverage manufacturing" is listed right above "gas drilling and production" on the city's list of allowed industrial uses). Which is fine for Anheuser-Busch but does not lend itself to the ethos or scale for a typical microbrewery. Brewpubs have been allowed under a different part of code, which at least partially explains the existence of Humperdinks, but nothing can be produced for off-site consumption.

Deep Ellum Brewing Co. and a handful of others were able to circumvent the rules through zoning that allowed food production or similar loopholes, said David Cossum, assistant director of sustainable development and construction. But it quickly became clear as microbreweries seemed to be turning into a thing that the city's old regulations were woefully inadequate.

Enter Cossum and city planners, who drafted new rules that were passed last month by the City Plan Commission. There are more specifics, but the main change is the insertion of this definition into city code:

MICROBREWERY, MICRODISTILLERY, OR WINERY means an establishment for the manufacture, blending, fermentation, processing, and packaging of alcoholic beverages with a floor area of 10,000 square feet or less that takes place wholly inside a building. A facility that only provides tasting or retail sale of alcoholic beverages is not a microbrewery, microdistillery, or winery use.

You still won't be able to open a microbrewery in your garage, and would-be microbrewers will still have to go before the City Council for a Specific Use Permit, but this will presumably be easier since city code would now tell them its okay. The zoning change is set to go before the entire council on June 27 where, if council members know what's good for them, it will pass.

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