Planning and Zoning reject RAR limits

CAMBRIDGE – The City of Cambridge Planning and Zoning Commission has unanimously rejected recommendations from the City Council’s Ordinance Committee to place restrictions on a proposed expansion by Real Ale Revival (RAR).

The move came during the commission’s meeting on Feb. 6. City Council Chambers were packed to standing room only, as many supporters of the craft brewery came to witness the meeting.

The issue now reverts to the City Council for discussion.

The brewery operates a taproom at 504 Poplar St., where ales are also produced. It has gained a following throughout the state.

Owners Randy Mills and Chris Brohawn had applied to expand their brewing operation to the former Maryland Wire Belts building on Goodwill Avenue. That site, in the city’s Industrial Zone, is owned by John Russell and is occupied by a number of small businesses.

The Ordinance Committee, comprised of City Councilmen Dave Cannon and Steve Rideout, as well as City Planner Pat Escher and City Attorney Patrick Thomas, recommended that the brewery’s location be restricted to 500 feet from residences, hours of operation limited to 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and that it be prohibited from emitting “noxious odors.”

Ms. Escher said the state government is considering removing restrictions on craft breweries. “The ordinance committee was concerned with those changes and how they would affect” neighbors, she said.

“We are trying to improve ourselves economically,” Ms. Escher said. “My professional opinions is that we defer to the state.”

Mr. Cannon was present at the meeting as the City Council’s liaison. He did not speak. Earlier in the day, he had declined to comment, saying that he would make his remarks at a council meeting.

Members of the Planning and Zoning Commission present for the meeting were Chairman William Craig, Vice Chairman Jerry Burroughs, Marshall Rickert, Mary Losty and Chan’Tay Nelson. Eugene Lauer and Hubert Trego were absent.

“We have an obligation to reject the recommendations of the Ordinance Committee,” Mr. Rickert said, because the proposed restrictions were specific to one business, not the entire zone.

“City and state governments actively promoted economic development in the industrial zone,” he said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
When the floor was opened for public comment, several citizens spoke in favor of rejecting the limitations. None spoke in favor.

“We have seven loading docks in the front” of the building, Mr. Russell said. “Traffic won’t be an issue on the side roads.”

Mr. Mills said an expansion to the site would be for brewing only. “We’re not putting a taproom there,” he said, adding that the new facility would reduce traffic downtown.

“We’re not trying to do anything crazy,” Mr. Brohawn said when he took his turn at the podium. “We’re going to keep everything downtown.”
Katie Clendaniel of Downtown Cambridge, Chad Malkus of Cambridge Business Professionals Group and Shane Foxwell were among those who also spoke in support of RAR.

Editor’s note: Mr. Cannon is also an employee of The Dorchester Banner. The City Council discussed this issue on Monday, after The Banner’s deadline for this article. At the meeting, the mayor and council members heard J.T. Merriweather speak in favor of the brewery’s expansion. The meeting featured a first reading of ordinances related to the brewery’s expansion and Foxwell Auction’s proposed move to the Metro building. About a dozen citizens spoke in favor of the auction’s move. No one spoke against it. The council’s next meeting on Feb. 26 will have a second reading of the ordinances, with more opportunity for public comment, followed by votes to decide the issues. Check our Facebook page for updates.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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