The owners of Lewes Brewing Company have unveiled their plans to build a microbrewery along Savannah Road near the Lewes-to-Georgetown Trail crossing.
Owners Christine and Dave Jones went before the city’s joint site development ad hoc review committee Aug. 26, where they received a positive recommendation to mayor and city council.
The plan is to use the four existing buildings on the 0.63-acre parcel. The brewery operation and tasting room will be in the westernmost building on the site. The building that was most recently used as a resale shop is planned for offices, while two buildings on the east side of the property will be used for storage.
Doug Warner of Element Design says the brewery will likely have an industrial look. Large windows are planned for the west wall of the building that would display the brewery’s tanks to those driving into town or using the Lewes-to-Georgetown Trail. The outside of the building’s existing west wall has a large advertisement for Delaware Realty.
Plans show an L-shaped bar with space for about 15 people. A small indoor seating area would be complemented with an outdoor patio. The patio would be the only new addition to the building.
Christine Jones said there is not enough space in the building for a kitchen, so they will likely invite a food truck to the brewery during peak times.
Due to the small size of the parcel and existing buildings, the plan provides just 12 parking spaces. Per city code, they are actually only required to have nine; however, committee members expressed concerns about the limited availability.
“Meeting the minimums really isn’t a great thing,” said Bob Heffernan, also a member of the planning commission. “You can calculate it, but queuing theory says you’ll get two to three times the number of visitors at any point in time. When you go for final approval, I would think you should do studies of those kinds of things.”
Committee member Nancy Staisey asked if parking is permitted along Savannah Road, because there isn’t any place nearby for overflow parking.
John Murray, senior project manager with The Kercher Group, said parking along Savannah Road is not something the owners would want to do.
Along with trail access and bike racks, Christine Jones said the brewery is very close to a DART bus stop at Huling Cove.
“There’s an opportunity to advertise parking out [on Route 1], taking the bus in and taking the bus back out,” she said.
Dave Jones said the brewery is likely comparable to Revelation Brewing in West Rehoboth and Brimming Horn Meadery in Harbeson.
According to traffic models, the brewery will generate 31 trips per day on average. The plan is to have a one-way entrance onto the property and a separate one-way exit farther east.
Heffernan was not satisfied with the applicants’ answers on parking.
“Parking and overflow parking can be a big issue,” he said. “The idea that people are going to ride the bus and not linger very long is going to come up again and again.”
Other issues raised by the committee that need to be addressed are lighting on the property, landscaping throughout the parcel, and signage to direct walkers and bicyclists on the trail.
Despite concerns, the committee voted unanimously to recommend approval of the project. It will next go before mayor and city council, which will hold a public hearing before voting.