Microbreweries permitted in certain areas

Fans of craft beer in Holton who wish to pursue a career in microbrewing now have the opportunity to do so, now that microbreweries are permitted in certain areas by the city’s zoning regulation.

During the Holton City Commission’s regular meeting on Monday, commissioners voted unanimously to accept the city planning commission’s recommendation to add microbreweries as an allowed use under C-2 (commercial) zoning in the city.

Holton resident Sean Willcott said the city’s action clears the way for him to open a microbrewery — a limited-production brewery that makes and sells specialty beers on a smaller scale than major breweries — in the 200 block of West Fourth Street. Willcott has said opening such a business would be “a long process,” but modifying the zoning regulations is “the first step.”

However, Holton City Manager Bret Bauer said the city had contacted Willcott about having a study conducted on the impact that a microbrewery would have on the city’s sewer collection system and wastewater treatment plant. So far, Bauer said, Willcott has not completed a study, although Willcott noted that he was planning on having one conducted.

According to Bauer, a microbrewery such as the one planned by Willcott “will discharge a higher strength waste” than a normal household, with more total suspended solids and “biochemical oxygen demands.” The extent of effect that a microbrewery would have on Holton’s sewer system is unknown at this time, commissioners noted.

Assistant City Manager Kerwin McKee added that the city is allowed to ask the owners of a businesses whose sewer discharges affect the city’s sewer treatment plant to ask for “pre-treatment” of its discharges. In this case, McKee recommended a “slow-release” septic system or a storage tank for elements that may have an effect on the sewer treatment system.

But as Commissioner Erich Campbell reminded Bauer and other commissioners, the matter at hand involved modifying the zoning regulations to include microbreweries as an allowed use.

“This is for the entire city, and this is what we should focus on,” Campbell said. “Once we change the zoning regulations, then we can negotiate with the brewers.”

Microbreweries are limited by law in Kansas to producing no more than 15,000 barrels of beer per year, with one barrel equaling 31 gallons, it was reported. Cited as examples at the planning commission’s Feb. 23 meeting were the Blind Tiger restaurant and brewpub in Topeka, which produces about 1,200 barrels per year, and Tallgrass Brewery in Manhattan, which is approaching the 15,000-barrel limit and getting ready to expand.

C-2 zoning applies to businesses located adjacent to Holton’s Town Square, which is designated a C-1 zone where such businesses as the microbrewery proposed by Willcott would not be allowed. Furthermore, such businesses involved in the sale of packaged alcoholic beverages are not permitted across the street from the Jackson County Courthouse or within 100 feet of a church, school or hospital.

In other business on Monday, commissioners approved the vacation of the 500 block of Colorado Avenue, located in front of Colorado Elementary School, and a block-long alley located half a block west of that section of Colorado. The street and alley are being vacated for construction of the new Holton elementary school on property adjacent to the existing school, McKee said.

It had been reported previously that while the alley, which runs between Fifth and Sixth streets and between Colorado and Dakota avenues, is fenced off, the 500 block of Colorado will not be completely closed during the construction period. Holton USD 336 Superintendent Dennis Stones said traffic in front of Colorado School will be reduced to one lane for buses, it was reported. 

The street and alley vacations were approved unanimously following a short public hearing.

Commissioners also:

* Approved minutes from their March 2 meeting and budget appropriations made since that meeting.

* Approved a bid of $49,225 from Bruna Implement Company of Marysville for the purchase of a Case skid loader for the street department.

Commissioners also considered bids of $49,628.36 for a Bobcat skid loader from White Star Machinery of Topeka, $52,500 for a New Holland skid loader from KanEquip of Wamego, $54,000 for a John Deere skid loader from Heritage Tractor of Topeka and $59,270 for a JCB skid loader from Sellers Equipment of Topeka.

Bauer said the city’s existing skid loader, purchased 10 years ago, has racked up $24,654.87 in maintenance costs since its purchase, but it will be repaired and shifted to the water and wastewater department so that the street department would not be deprived of the new skid loader’s use.

* Approved the reappointment of Steven Duryea to the Public Wholesale Water Supply District 18 board of directors.

* Heard comment from Commissioner Dan Brenner about whether the city would consider a “reverse 911” alert system.

* Heard a question from Commissioner Twila White on whether a timeline had been established for installation of a fountain in the middle of Elkhorn Lake. Bauer said it had not.

* Met in executive session for 20 minutes to discuss matters regarding non-elected personnel, with Bauer, McKee and City Clerk Teresa Riley joining the session. No action resulted from the session.

* Adjourned the meeting at 7:50 p.m. All five commissioners were present, including Mayor Robert Dieckmann, Brenner, Campbell, White and Tim Morris.

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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