Charleston County considers microbrewery zoning

Photo by Chrys Rynearson used under Creative Commons License.

By Liz Segrist
Published March 12, 2014

Charleston County is considering allowing microbreweries and brewbars in its unincorporated areas.

Currently, Mount Pleasant, North Charleston and the city of Charleston allow microbreweries in certain zoning districts, but unincorporated areas in the county do not. County planner Andrea Pietras said the county has received requests to change the zoning to allow microbreweries.

Microbreweries are defined as facilities that produce and package beer. If approved, they would have a cap of 5,000 barrels per year.

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Brewbars are bars, lounges or restaurants that have on-premise brewing capabilities, such as Palmetto Brewing Co. in downtown Charleston,  Pietras said. If approved, they can sell up to 2,000 barrels of beer a year on the premises.

In June, Gov. Nikki Haley signed into law the “Pint Bill,” granting microbreweries the ability to sell up to 48 ounces of beer on-site to patrons. Beer enthusiasts and brewers fought to change the law that previously only allowed breweries to give patrons free samples on-site.

The law kicked the Palmetto State’s brewing industry into high gear. Microbreweries around the state ramped up brewing operations and sales. Others opened their doors.

Palmetto Brewing Co., Holy City Brewing, Coast Brewing Co. and Westbrook Brewing Co. are among some of the local brew hubs in the Lowcountry to benefit from the law.

During the county’s public meeting on microbreweries last night, local architect Neil Stevenson spoke in favor of them.

“Microbreweries are a low-impact business. There are no harmful byproducts. The byproducts that are produced are given to local farms or used as feedstock,” Stevenson said. “The breweries create jobs ... and it helps diversify the local economy.”

Under the proposed amendment, special exceptions would be required for those microbreweries in the commercial zoning district that allow on-site consumption of beer or alcoholic beverages. Special exceptions would also be required for those located within 500 feet of either a property line of a residential zoning district or a lot that is zoned for residential use.

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119 or @lizsegrist on Twitter.

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