Whately brewing co. in the running for pouring permit

  • Hitchcock Brewing Company in Whately, which is owned by Rich and Geneva Pederson, is the newest brewery to open in Franklin County; behind the brewery, the couple grows about 850 hop plants, which they use in the beer. RECORDER FILE PHOTO/ANDY CASTILLO

  • Hitchcock Brewing Company in Whately, which is owned by Rich and Geneva Pederson, is the newest brewery to open in Franklin County; behind the brewery, the couple grows about 850 hop plants, which they use in the beer. RECORDER FILE PHOTO/ANDY CASTILLO

For the Gazette
Published: 4/19/2018 9:26:32 PM

WHATELY — Hitchcock Brewing Company has taken a small step toward turning its tasting room into a pouring room.

Until Tuesday night, a bylaw to be voted on at the April 24 Town Meeting would not have allowed the Christian Lane craft brewery to apply for a special permit to function similarly to a bar. This was based on the zoning of the location of the business.

At a public hearing Monday night, the Planning Board voted 3-1 to amend the bylaw in favor of the brewery. The discussion turned out about a dozen people, and resident input helped to sway the Whately Planning Board’s decision.

“The public opinion was amazingly strong,” Planning Board member Judy Markland said.

If passed with a two-thirds vote at Town Meeting, this means the family-owned brewery, which already allows for tastings, could pour full drinks for people. The brewery opened in May 2016.

The decision came following a letter submitted by brewery owners and a round of public comment, led by words of support from Selectman Jonathan Edwards and Zoning Board of Appeals member Robert Smith. Neither was formally speaking in his capacity as a board member, but both of their thoughts were well-heard by the Planning Board.

“They’re a great company. We want to encourage them,” said Edwards, who is running for state representative. He later added, “If you’re not going to permit this, then geez.”

Edwards said if the Planning Board is concerned about rowdiness of a possible bar-like atmosphere, then in the special permit process, there could be stipulations such as when the business is allowed to be open. The current tasting room hours at the brewery are 2 to 7 p.m. on Saturdays.

Smith backed this idea, saying this is the kind of business the area should support and pointing to the letter from the owners that says this could help them preserve their land and their family business.

“If there is a way to help save farmland, this in an odd way, but it could be a way to help save farmland,” he said.

While the town’s warrant will remain the same, because of the timeframe before the annual Town Meeting, the Planning Board voted to read its amendment at the meeting.

The amendment specifically addresses the “agricultural/residential 2” zone, which is where Hitchcock sits. At the property, the owners grow their own hops and brew their own beer. If the warrant article is passed by the town, the brewery will still have to apply for a special permit and could be denied, so there is more road ahead before the Hitchcock Brewing Company can start serving up drinks.


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