CLEARWATER – No one commented during the first public hearing Dec. 10 on a proposal to amend county code to allow dispensing of alcoholic beverages in an M-1 zoning district.
A second public hearing is scheduled on Jan. 14, 9:30 a.m., in the Fifth Floor Assembly Room of the Pinellas County Courthouse, 315 Court St., Clearwater.
According to a staff report, the county has received many inquiries about the manufacturing and dispensing of alcoholic beverages from the craft beer industry. A report from the Local Planning Agency, which voted 4-0, Nov. 14, in favor of an amendment, said the county’s current zoning code “does not adequately address the range of activities that can be associated with local breweries/manufacturers.”
Examples include breweries with tasting rooms and operations that would like to sell and dispense their product for onsite and offsite consumption as permitted by state law.
“These activities can be important marketing elements for a manufacturing/distribution operation,” the LPA said.
Currently, county code only allows dispensing of alcoholic beverages within zoning districts C-1 (neighborhood commercial district), C-2 (general retail commercial and limited services district), C-3 (commercial, wholesale, warehousing and limited services district), CP (commercial parkway district) and IPD (industrial, planned development district), but not M-1 (light manufacturing and industry district).
However, code does allow manufacturers in M-1 zones to sell their products on a retail basis as long as the retail use is an accessory to the primary use and does not exceed 25 percent of the building area.
The LPA and the county’s Planning and Development Services staff recommend amending the code to allow retail sale and dispensing of alcoholic beverages in the M-1 zoning district.
A report from the LPA states that allowing dispensing for on-premises and off-premises consumption could “enhance market potential and offer community vitality” and contribute to the local economy. Standards within the code address noise and traffic concerns and should not be a problem, the LPA said.
County staff and the LPA agree that the amendment is consistent with the county’s Comprehensive Plan and its goals and policies, including the Planning to Stay Element, Future Land Use and Quality Communities Element and the Economic Element.
The Planning to Stay Element seeks to improve the county’s appeal as a place to live and work and targets improving the quality of the urban and natural environment, while protecting community character, supporting economic development and enhancing the lives of all segments of the county’s population.
Future Land Use and Quality Communities Element targets improving the quality of life by creating diverse and walkable destinations with choices in housing, services, workplaces and travel modes.
The Economic Element focuses on achieving a business climate that promotes and supports local business retention, expansion and diversity.