John Scarffe, Gilpin County.
Very Nice Brewing requested a Special Use Review (SUR) for a brewing and tasting room in Braecher Park in mid-Gilpin County during a regular meeting of the Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 at the Gilpin County Courthouse. The Board also launched a search for a new County manager after Roger Baker announced his retirement.
Board Chair Gail Watson announced that County Manager Roger Baker will be retiring effective April 25. “We’re very thankful for you staying on,” Watson said. The Board had to officially accept his resignation, so Commissioner Linda Isenhart moved to accept the resignation, with sorrow in her heart.
Commissioner Ron Engels offered his heartfelt thanks for Baker’s service to Gilpin County, and said he hopes Baker will enjoy his retirement as much as he can. The Board approved Baker’s resignation.
Engels brought up the possibility of hiring an executive search firm, and Watson said the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) is able to complete the same process at no cost to the County, and Engels moved to engage DOLA.
The Board approved the motion, and Watson said DOLA will be back to the Board with who will be involved in the process, a contract and what to expect. “This is going to be a very large transition for the County,” Watson said. The Board will have a kickoff meeting, and they will discuss it further in a work session.
Community Development Director Tony Petersen said that Jeffrey Green and Very Nice Brewing has requested an SUR to extend the business into Gilpin County. The brewery would be on commercially zoned property and is surrounded by commercial property at Braecher Park Lot 7, south of the County Transfer Station. Green, of Black Hawk, said he and his wife own Very Nice Brewing in Nederland, but they don’t have enough room to make beer to allow them to participate in all of the area’s activities.
They have a tap room, where the beer is born, so it’s a great place to have a production room. “My wife and I left our jobs and ventured into this as a midlife crisis,” Green said, explaining that a tap room is very different from a bar. Tap rooms are open in the afternoon and close early. They don’t sell liquor or wine.
“We don’t have a liquor license, but we still have to jump through a lot of hoops. We don’t ever want it to be a bar,” Green said. The brewery fosters a community center, where people can go have a beer and not have the worries of a bar, in line with an English or Irish pub.
“A craft brewery is the answer to binge drinking. Customers have one or two beers,” Green said. Very Nice Brewery also contributes to charities. “We are extremely community oriented and have donated $12,000 to local charities and issues since we opened in 2012,” Green wrote in his application. One dollar out of every four goes to charity, Green said, and they want to have events like a chili cook off. “We wanted to expand charity and do one event a month.”
Green said they want to expand their operations to participate in more local activities such as Frozen Dead Guy Days and NedFest. “It’s the smallest brewery in the state, and that’s what we want to change. We weren’t able to participate in the Beer Fest this year because we didn’t have enough beer.”
Very Nice anticipates breaking ground in 2018. “It’s just my wife and I, and we’re very financially solid. We don’t have to pay money to investors,” Green said. They are waiting for approval to purchase the property. The building will be prefabricated with a nice front, maybe stone.
Petersen said that the proposal is consistent with the County’s master plan, and zoning captures everything. The business would generate 78 rounds of traffic per day and will have parking, so it should not impact traffic.
Green said that more parking is part of their plan. They will need employee parking as well. Customers are really in and out through the day, and the area has less population density than Nederland, which has about 50 to 100 customers throughout the day.
“This will primarily be a production facility. We’re planning ahead,” Green said. Petersen said they plan for 88 parking spaces and are using the convenience store model and how long people will stay during peak hours.
Green estimates water consumption at 325,000 gallons per year at maximum production, and Petersen said the water company has approved the request. Green said it takes seven times the amount of beer produced, on average, for brewing and cleaning.
“We will be paying per gallon, so it’s in our interest to save water. I don’t expect to come close to that much water but wanted to be very conservative,” Green said. Petersen said, “I don’t see any potential conflicts with businesses.”
Operation hours would be Monday through Thursday from Noon to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from Noon until 10 p.m. with the exception of four or five special occasions when they would have live music and stay open until 11 p.m., and Sunday from Noon until 8 p.m.
The Gilpin County Planning Commission approved the SUR unanimously with 13 conditions, Petersen said. Conditions include live music ceasing an hour before closing, noise levels can’t exceed 60 decibels and only prepackaged food may be sold unless a vendor or food truck is licensed. Wastewater from the brewing process must be treated and absorbed on site through a permitted wastewater treatment system.
Watson said she wanted to talk about impact. The facility will be in the industrial park, but the Board has to think about the smell of brewing, lights, noise and parking. Green said that in Nederland the brewery is much closer to the public and other businesses, and they’ve never had one complaint.
“Basically, it’s a steam that is coming off. Most systems I know of don’t even have a fan,” Green said. The Coors plant in Golden brews millions of gallons and they will only be moving about three gallons. “We’re making a very modest amount compared to what most people have and most are in much denser populations.”
Watson said she knows folks who live in Colorado Sierra, and they have some concerns about the impact from that industrial area. She was also concerned about live music until 11 p.m.
Green said they won’t have full bands, but performers like husband and wife couples and blue grass bands. “In our type of establishment, the music is mainly there for nice background and if 11 p.m. is too late, it’s too late. I don’t foresee that as a problem.”
Watson asked if they can modify that if they get complaints, and Petersen said the sound limit is 60 decibels to the property line.
During public comment, Dave Thomas, a Gilpin County resident and brewer, said he supported Green’s application, but he asked about what will happen to the waste left over from the brewing process.
Green said grain is left over after the mash process. It cleans up the starches and turns it into sugar. “There’s a million things to do with it, but the most common is giving it to animals.” People line up to get it for doing gardens, and you can make bread with it. Egyptians made beer first and bread later.
“It’s never been a problem. It makes good compost. People are bringing it up to mining sites. I have a line of people we have to say, ‘no’ to.”
Thomas said that if it sits around for more than 24 hours it will draw every fly in the county. Petersen suggested adding the condition that the waste be removed within 24 hours. Green asked for 36 hours, and Thomas said that would work, depending on how it’s stored on site. “They’ll find out real quick in the summer time,” Thomas said.
The Commissioners approved the SUR with the Planning Commission’s 13 conditions and added the condition regarding removing the waste within 36 hours.