A proposed microbrewery in West Rehoboth cleared its first hurdle when Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission voted 5-0 to recommend approval.
At its Feb. 11 meeting, the commission unanimously agreed to forward an affirmative recommendation to Sussex County Council for the proposed Beachfire Brewery Co. LLC tasting room and microbrewery.
Beachfire Brewing – the same company that wants to convert a Belltown church to a restaurant/brewery – has plans to open a microbrewery with a 1,500-square-foot building housing a beer-testing operation and a 20-seat tasting room. Beachfire has filed a conditional-use application because the county has no regulations pertaining to brewpubs or microbreweries even in commercial zones.
Commissioners said the building on Central Avenue is located on a commercially zoned parcel. “It's similar to permitted uses, and it's limited to the size of the parcel with no expansion,” said Commissioner Rodney Smith, who made the motion for approval.
Assistant county attorney Vince Robertson said Beachfire would have to comply with state and federal regulations relating to the operation of a brewery.
Among conditions placed on the operation, there can be no outside storage and the final site plan must be reviewed and approved by the planning and zoning commission. Smith said he would prefer that the Delaware Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission dictate hours of operation.
Harry Metcalf, one of Beachfire's owners, said the microbrewery would allow brewers to experiment and interact with customers.
During a Jan. 28 planning and zoning commission meeting, the developer's attorney, Hal Dukes, said Beachfire Brewing Co. has future plans for a large-scale brewing operation in the Georgetown area. “This is all part of a bigger plan,” Metcalf said. Representatives of a nearby youth center, West Side New Beginnings, opposed the plan.
Beachfire Brewing is awaiting a decision by county council on another conditional-use application to build a restaurant/brewpub on a two-acre parcel between Route 9 and Beaver Dam Road, near Five Points. The planning and zoning commission has recommended council vote in favor of the application.