By Alex Malm
The Zoning Board of Adjustment heard a case regarding a variance request to allow manufacturing in the AR-1 Zone during the Feb. 15 meeting.
It was explained by Michaela Waldron, the owner of 83 Litchfield Road, that she was looking to be able to convert the garage into a place to manufacture beer.
“We’re looking to manufacture on a small scale,” said Waldron.
Waldron said it wouldn’t be open to the public, which means there wouldn’t be any additional traffic. She also noted they wouldn’t have any employees, and the only two people doing the work would be herself and the applicant, John Thompson.
“We won’t be hiring anyone else to do this,” said Waldron.
She said it will allow them to use their property for a business.
“This would allow us to create local business and revenue,” said Waldron.
Waldron said there wouldn’t be any changes made to the outside structure of the garage other than removing the garage door and putting in french doors.
“Other than that there will be no change,” said Waldron.
One question that was asked was in regards to what chemicals would be used.
Waldron said that other than natural foods, like grains and water they would be using food grade sanitizer.
In terms of odors Waldron said that they have been brewing just for family and friends weekly and haven’t had any issues.
“There have been no smells around the house,” said Waldron.
Waldron explained that in order to get a nano brewery license they need to have a space that is separate from the house.
“Without a space like that we won;t be able to get a license,” said Waldron.
Waldron explained that they plan to sell locally at farmers markets and possibly during the winter at local stores.
“That’s our vision,” said Waldron.
One of the abutters that spoke during the meeting was Allan Saulnier who said he was concerned that the variance could cause a precedent.
“You’re putting a very specific variance in a residential area,” said Saulnier.
Town Council Liaison Deb Paul asked if the well was tested for PFAS, and also asked if the fire department looked at it noting that the tanks used can be dangerous. .
Waldron said that they are in the process of having it tested. She said right now they already get water delivered and if there are still issues with the water they will continue to do so.
Assistant Town Manager Kellie Caron said the fire department would become involved during the building permit process.
“That would be addressed,” said Caron.
Paul also asked if it’s going to be the same size garage and asked about the dimensions.
Waldron said that they wouldn’t be expanding the garage at all and all the equipment would be in the garage.
The variance request was ultimately denied.