MILTON, Ga. — A proposal being drafted by the city could allow breweries and distilleries to operate in more areas of Milton’s commercial zones. The Milton City Council approved moving forward with a plan expanding where distilleries and breweries could do business in downtown Crabapple and the Deerfield Parkway area.
The move, taken at the council’s Feb. 17 meeting, was spurred, at least in part, from two alcohol manufacturers eyeing Milton as a potential base.
Last year, the city updated its codes to allow breweries, microbreweries, distilleries and microdistilleries to open shop in certain areas of Milton, but only in zones that allowed for light manufacturing. The latest proposal would add more zoning designations to that list.
The move carries significant weight for one of the alcohol manufacturing businesses looking to set up in Milton. Economic Development Director Sarah LaDart said the firm wants to open in an area that does not currently permit alcohol production, but the site would be included in the city’s proposed expansion of allowable zones.
Breweries and distilleries would be permitted by “warrant,” which requires the city’s community development director to review the proposal and approve it at an administrative level. LaDart said this “ensures professional oversight” to ensure the proposal is an appropriate use, size or intensity for the area.
That was a sticking point for Councilman Paul Moore, who had concerns about manufacturing issues, including delivery trucks making early morning on late night deliveries or shipments that could impact nearby residents.
LaDart said those types of issues can be addressed when the city reviews a specific proposal. Hours of operation, parking, lighting, conformity to the city’s codes and other matters would also be reviewed.
The City Council would also have the final say in approving the alcohol licenses for any breweries or distilleries.
Councilman Joe Longoria said the city approving alcohol manufacturing in a single zoning category was likely an oversight, and with the council still controlling alcohol licensing, he said the proposed changes “all make perfect sense.”
While there is no real feasibility to a large-scale brewery or distillery opening in Crabapple due to land limitations, LaDart said the possibility remains in Deerfield. She used Atlanta’s Sweetwater Brewery, which manufactures about 500,000 barrels of beer a year on an 8-acre property, as an example of something that would be “really cool” to have in Deerfield.
“We would have the land for it,” LaDart said. “It would be disappointing to have that excluded as a possibility for a full-blown brewery.”
The expansion of where alcohol manufacturing can take place in Milton was a discussion item on the Feb. 17 agenda, intended more to gauge the council’s interest in the proposal. With all council members on board, LaDart said the ordinance update will go back before the board for a vote in June.
The discussion comes on the back of a bevy of alcohol-related ordinances updates the city has passed in recent years.
Ordinance changes ushered in wine manufacturing in 2019 at Milton’s only farm winery, The Painted Horse Winery and Vineyards. The city has continually tweaked those regulations in response to The Painted Horse and any future farm wineries that want to call Milton home.
Last year, the city also approved several new types of alcohol licenses, including growler shops, and loosened restrictions on alcohol sales for certain businesses. In December, just over a dozen changes were made to the city’s alcohol codes, including the deletion of some previous limitations and language clarification.