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County Commission approves zoning changes to encourage growth of microbreweries in Memphis, Shelby County

August 28, 2012 By: mike Category: Breweries, Government, Memphis

Beer glassesOpening a microbrewery in the Memphis area is now a little easier thanks to zoning changes approved Monday by the Shelby County Commission.

The changes, part of a huge package of revisions to the Memphis and Shelby County Unified Development Code, greatly expand the number of zoning districts that allow microbreweries.

Previously, the zoning code considered microbreweries the same as breweries, which are limited to the industrial zoning districts.

But under the new regulations, microbreweries will be permitted in office, commercial and central business district zones. In addition, microbreweries may be allowed with “special use” approval in many residential zones.

The new regulations were approved by an 11-0 vote of the County Commission on third reading, giving the measures final legislative approval. The City Council had earlier given its approval to the UCD changes.

Under the revised UDC, a “microbrewery”  is defined this way: “A brewery that produces no more than 15,000 barrels of beer in a year. Microbreweries may or may not include an on-site tasting room, and may or may not operate in conjunction with a bar. If operated in conjunction with a restaurant, the operation shall be considered a brewpub.”

The zoning changes follow another significant change in local law for would-be brewery owners.

In July, the Memphis City Council approved an amendment to the city’s alcohol code that will make it easier to open a brewery with a tasting room for on-premises consumption of pints.

Previously, to open a tasting room, brewery owners had to offer meals with at least one meat and one vegetable, prepared on premises with “adequate kitchen facilities.”

The City Council voted to exempt microbreweries from the requirement to sell food, eliminating a significant expense for brewery owners.

For more about all the UDC changes, go here.

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