Zoning board OKs brewery in borough
Investors who want to put a brewery in an abandoned building at Oak and Ninth streets in Coplay faced a room full of residents from the quiet neighborhood during an Aug. 29 meeting of the zoning hearing board.
After listening to statements from both sides of the issue, the board approved the request with restrictions.
David Daly, of Lansdale, purchased the building and poured money into the structure to get it cleaned up. Henry Rhoads, of Kutztown, is the brewer, while John Schultz, of Kempton, and Robert Dwinell, of Whitehall, are financial investors.
The plan is to have a small craft brewery with limited seating.
Jesse Santiago was the main spokesman for the neighbors, who had two major concerns.
The first issue was potential noise. As Anne Killeen, another resident of the area, noted in her comments, there is a rule that any noise from inside a brewery must not be heard outside the walls. The building owners said they are not worried about the restriction because they do not intend to have live music.
Santiago indicated he was not as worried about noise inside the proposed brewery as he was about noise around closing time.
“I have had the problem before,” Santiago noted. “I used to live across from the Log Cabin. Everyone has had a few drinks, and it’s noisy inside the bar. Patrons then stand around outside saying goodbye to their friends.
“Right now, I have the quietest neighbors — with the cemetery across the street,” he added.
The owners plan to limit the brewery’s output to approximately 500 kegs per year. They can go higher, but they anticipate that may come later.
“We can only put so many brewing tanks in there,” Rhoads said, “and we are limited by the height of the ceiling.”
In all, Rhoads has a list of 35-plus beers that will be rotated through the taps.
“I like to make lagers and have a very good black lager,” he noted.
The bar will only be open on the weekends.
“We all have jobs, and we just don’t have the capacity for a continuing operation,” Rhoads said.
Neighbors were also concerned about parking. There is parking available on the side of the building that would meet standards. Overflow parking would need to move to the street. Oak Street is a residential suburban neighborhood where most homes have driveways and garages.
“We still use parking in front of our houses,” Santiago said. “We don’t want to come home and find cars everywhere.”
The zoning board was more concerned with plans for the other floors in the building. The abandoned property is a nonconforming use. The last owner used it as for storage and a workshop. The new use is more public.
The parking spaces allocated for the brewery will take up available parking. Any additional use would require a variance. Daly said he had no plans for the upper floors at this time.
The zoning hearing board unanimously approved the request with restrictions. Any additional uses require a review before the board. Hours were restricted, with closing time set for 10 p.m.