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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on April 15th, 2016, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 17, Issue 6 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 17, Issue 6

Plans soured for Libertine's Brewing Company's Santa Maria tasting room

By DAVID MINSKY

The Santa Maria Planning Commission deadlocked, voting 2-2, on allowing a proposed tasting room at Libertine Brewing Company’s new facility during a meeting on April 6. 

Owner Tyler Clark recently acquired warehouse space at 2325 A Street in the southwest portion of the city, just slightly north of the Santa Maria Airport. 

Libertine would make beer at the brewery’s San Luis Obispo location and truck it down to the Santa Maria facility where it’ll be aged in wooden barrels, bottled, and distributed from there. 

Clark applied for a conditional use permit to install a tasting room where beer will be served, however other local business owners are pushing back against the idea. 

A petition signed by nine people who own businesses in the general area of the Libertine facility was presented to the Planning Commission meeting last week.

The area where the tasting would go is housed by several manufacturing businesses that operate 24-hours a day. 

James Simms, who owns nearby West A Properties and Simms Machinery International, and other petitioners said the tasting room would interfere with their operations by causing parking and congestion problems and safety concerns. 

The petition also referred to the conditional zoning permitting requirements, which state “retail sales activity shall not provide service to or cater to or attract the general public.”

“We are concerned about our employees’ safety when coming to and from work at our business due to the alcohol consumption by the general public in our complex,” the petition stated. “This type of business activity is not ‘compatible with the purpose of this zone.’”

Speaking before the commissioners, Simms referred to the tasting room as a bar. 

“You can cut it any way, it’s beer tasting,” Simms said. “It’s still alcohol consumption.” 

However, Clark said the 700-plus square foot tasting room is an important component to the new facility. Clark said its purpose would be to generate additional revenue and educate consumers on the brewery’s type of beer, which is a specialty product that’s referred to as a wild ale, or sour beer. 

“It’s very important for us to have the tasting room because that’s how small breweries like us survive,” Clark told the commissioners. “By selling directly to the customer.” 

Clark also owns Libertine Pub in Morro Bay. In all of the fours years he’s owned both the brewery and the pub, Clark said not once has there been a problem that’s needed police attention. 

Santa Maria Brewing Company (SMBC) founder and brewmaster Dan Hilker didn’t attend the meeting, but wanted to speak in favor of Libertine. He said it didn’t make sense to deny a tasting room and he cited the success of the wine industry in the Santa Maria Valley. 

“The whole area is about wineries, breweries, and alcohol consumption and it’s all done in a positive way,” Hilker told the Sun.

The SMBC brewery, which is located two blocks from Libertine on Fairway Drive, used to sell only 6-ounce tastings, but recently acquired a permit to operate a taproom that sells full 12-ounce pints. 

Moxie Café, located along McCoy Lane in the same general area, also sells beer. 

Hilker, who is also a retired UC-Santa Barbara police officer, said the responsibility of making sure nobody drinks too much falls on the owner of the establishment. 

For now, the tasting room is on hold. The Planning Commission will revisit the matter on April 20 at 6 p.m. in the City Council chambers. 









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