Amici’s gets go-ahead for brew pub

Tia Lynn Ivey News

New updates to the City of Madison’s zoning ordinance will allow Amici Italian Café of Madison to add an in-house beer brewing component to the restaurant chain’s repertoire and could possibly pave the way for a Starbucks to set up shop in Madison.

At last Monday’s regular meeting, the Madison Mayor and City Council approved a series of revisions to the city’s zoning ordinance including an allowance for brew pubs and dual locate sites in the C4 zoning district.

Amici’s, which is planning to relocate into the old Madison Hardware & Supply Store building located at 174 West Washington Street in Madison, will be the first to take advantage of the new brew pub feature that allows restaurants to have manufacture, serve, and distribute craft custom beer all from one location.

Under state laws, brew pubs have more restrictions on the selling and distribution of alcohol. While brew pubs can brew their own beer and sell other brands of beer and alcohol with the proper license, they are prohibited from selling kegs, bottles, or cans like a normal full brewery would be able to do. However, they can sell growlers, which are large glass containers of beer for package sale.

The dual locate site feature will now allow two primary uses to take up residence on one plot of land inside the C4 District, which is clustered around the interchange and is limited to only restaurants and hotels.

“We are opening this up very narrowly,’ said Director of City Planning Monica Callahan at Monday night’s meeting. Starbucks is hoping to utilize Madison’s new dual locate allowance to open a store beside the Steak N’ Shake on U.S. 441.

According to Callahan, the city’s ordinance was extremely specific about the types of allowable “land use.” While there were allowances for separate businesses to operate out of shared or connected buildings, such as gas stations with convenience stores or shopping centers, there was nothing in the codes to allow for two free-standing businesses on one site. But the dual locate revision remedies this dilemma. The lot in question is about 1.5 acres, which is too small to subdivide into two lots. The city required a minimum of one acre to develop a site in the C4 district.

Now, with a few conditions, Starbucks can build a separate store without subdividing the land. Under the proposed text amendment, dual locate sites would be allowed in C4 Districts only with several conditions.

Each business must ensure there is at least 20 feet between the two buildings constructed on a single lot of record.

“We want to make sure we can fit a fire truck between buildings,” explained Callahan.

While the City will allow for some reduction in parking requirements, dual locate sites would not be allowed to increase impervious surfaces at all.

The council also approved the allowance of pawn shops in the C1 District and the allowance of Transfer Stations, which are state licensed facilities used to transfer solid waste from one transfer vehicle to another.

“It’s not a local landfill. It’s a waste station,” explained Callahan.

According to City Manager David Nunn in an interview last month, the allowance of pawn shops in this Downtown District is not being done in order for new pawn shop businesses to open downtown, but was prompted to remedy a long-time dispute between The City of Madison and Steve Stempinski, the owner of Steve’s Place.

Stempinski currently classifies his shop as a “discount department store” since pawn shops are not allowed in the C1 District. But the City of Madison contended Steve’s Place essentially operates as a pawn shop and wanted Stempinski to comply with reporting regulations specific to pawn shops. Stempinski has appeared before the Mayor and City Council numerous times in the last couple of years to make his case and even filed suit against Madison’s Chief of Police Bill Ashburn and City Attorney Joe Reitman.

“Cracking this door open just a little on this is about getting everyone in compliance with the law,” said Nunn, who noted Stempinski has been in business for about 20 years at this current location downtown that has never posed a problem for the city. “Over the years, his store has morphed into a pawn shop and that needs to be reflected. If we make this allowance, Steve’s Place will officially be a pawn shop and he will be expected to comply with all regulations for pawn shops.”

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