By Tia Lynn Ivey
In an effort to recruit more businesses to Downtown Madison and the rest of the city, the Madison City Council is considering allowing breweries, distilleries and wineries to set up shop in town. However, the City of Madison’s zoning ordinances and operations codes do not currently include allowances for such businesses.
“I am here today looking for some feedback from you to see if you want us to be proactive about this and look into including these alcohol production businesses into our ordinance,” said Director of Planning Monica Callahan.
According to Callahan, these alcohol production businesses could bring more tourists into the City of Madison, which would in turn give a boost to other existing businesses throughout the city, such as hotels, restaurants and eateries, and other local attractions.
“These are almost like destination businesses now,” explained Callahan, who noted alcohol production businesses are a growing trend throughout Georgia. Callahan noted the popularity of such establishments in Georgia cities like Dahlonega, Greensboro, and Athens.
“They produce on site, you go in and they usually have a tasting room,” explained Callahan.
Callahan believes that it’s only a matter of time before a brewery, winery, or distillery is requested to operate in Madison.
“We want to get ahead of this,” said Callahan. “We are going to be begged this zoning question sooner rather than later.”
Callhan noted that craft breweries were the first to gain steam, with most Georgia cities allowing them first.
Mayor Fred Perriman and the Madison City Council gave Callahan the green light to move forward researching how to best accommodate breweries, wineries and distilleries into the city’s zoning ordinance.
“I see this as an opportunity,” said Councilman Joe DiLetto, who praised the industry. “I think it’s imperative that we get on board with this. I think we have an opportunity to be leaders in the state.”
“I think this is a liberalization we are seeing here . It is the direction we are moving in and the direction the citizens want to go,” said Council Eric Joyce.
Callahan will research options for accommodating various alcohol production businesses in the zoning ordinance for the council to review in the near future.