One of the first things a proposed brewery owner needs to determine is where the brewery will be located. “Location, Location, Location” is what the realtors say – and they’re right! Locating your brewery in the right spot will help drive traffic to your tap room, driving sales and sought after profit. That’s the business side of site selection.
On the legal side of site selection, the first question to be considered is whether or not your desired site is zoned in a manner that allows for the operation of a brewery. If the answer to that question is no, it will generally require the selection of a new location. The second question that should be considered is whether the chosen location presents any obstacles to licensing by the NYSLA or TTB.
If a brewery is allowed under the zoning laws in your chosen location, and there are no obstacles to licensing presented by the site, the next step will be determining what the municipality’s planning process is and how you can meet its requirements while adhering to your project schedule.
In general, with the right zoning in place, a proposed brewery can expect to go through a site plan process at the planning board level. This will require you to provide the planning board with details regarding the site, including the brewery’s size, setbacks, utilities, parking, drainage, vehicle and pedestrian circulation, and landscaping plans. Compliance with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) will also be required. It will be important to bring a team of consultants together in order to ensure that the zoning and planning process goes smoothly. The principal members of this team generally include an engineering firm and a land-use attorney.
The next site selection question to be answered is how you will control the site – i.e., will you own or lease the real property. That’s a topic for another day.
Content in this post is taken from Whiteman Osterman & Hanna’s New York State Craft Beverages Handbook.
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