Auburn to tap into microbreweries
By ROBERT WHALE
Auburn Reporter News reporter
July 7, 2011 · 4:22 PM
Small craft breweries and distilleries, wine production facilities and tasting rooms can draw tourists, promote small business and boost a local economy.
Auburn City Council decided Tuesday to open the door to them. And that will require a few changes to the City Code.
“It is to allow in our downtown and urban core some commercial and industrial zoning areas where there could be small craft breweries, wine facilities and tasting rooms. … I’m very supportive of this ordinance,” said Councilwoman Nancy Backus before voting on the ordinance.
Backus is a member of the Planning and Community Development Committee, which first suggested the idea last October.
The Planning Commission held a public hearing May 17 on the measure, then expressed its preference for allowing manufacturing and production facilities in the downtown urban core only if they also had a tasting room. Language requiring a tasting room is not part of the ordinance at this time.
City staff added a definition for a wine production facility and changed the definition for a tasting room to be more general and to be dependent upon proof of a valid Washington State liquor license.
Tasting rooms, however, will be an outright permitted use, requiring no special permits. Manufacturing and production facilities, however, will require an administrative use permit.
The ordinance defines a tasting room as a location separate from or on the same site as the production site, allowing customers to taste samples of wine, beer, or other alcoholic beverages, with a required state issued liquor license to operate. In addition to sampling of beverages, a tasting room may include retail sales for off-premises consumption.
"We're not necessarily going to have wineries in Auburn ... but we may have a manufacturing and production element here," senior planner Hillary Taylor recently told members of the PCDC.
Local business leaders like the idea.
"Obviously, the Chamber supports business in general, and anything that could help the local economy is great," said Nancy Wyatt, President and COO of the Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce. "The city of Pacific has Trade Route Brewery, which is a wonderful micro brewery. It's an excellent place with wonderful people. And it's neat to be able to see people take stuff from the raw product to fruition. This has a tourism element, and to add a tourism draw would be wonderful."
The ordinance defines microbreweries and wine production facilities as follows:
• A microbrewery is a production facility that makes beer. It may sell beer of its own making at retail for on-and-off premises consumption and may act as a distributor for beer of its own production.
• A wine production facility may sell wine of its own production at retail, for on- and-off premises consumption, and may act as a distributor for wine of its own production.Contact Auburn Reporter News reporter Robert Whale at email@example.com or 253-833-0218, ext. 5052.