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Planning Commission Approves Conditional Use Permit For Microdistillery To Open In Fortuna

April 15, 2012

From The Times-Standard – A chemist, who recently returned to his hometown of Fortuna, cleared his first hurdle in an effort to establish a small-batch microdistillery in the downtown area.

Abe Stevens received a conditional use permit from the Fortuna Planning Commission on Tuesday. He said he still has to obtain a federal distilling license and a license from the California Alcohol Beverage Control Office before opening. Stevens added that his next hurdle is working with the Arcata Economic Development Corporation to help with the distillery’s start-up expenses.

Once he gets the distillery up and running at 735 10th Street, Stevens said, he will be producing small batches of fruit brandy made from local apples and pears, as well as other types of liquor such as whiskey and vodka. The distillery would also use organic grain and fruit to make its spirits, Stevens said.

”A lot of fruit is involved in making brandies, there are plenty of local options,” he said. “When it comes to grains, which are used in things like whiskey, regionally or statewide, we should be able to find some. So as much as possible we’re going to try and use organic ingredients and locally produced ingredients.”

Planning commissioners unanimously approved a conditional use permit to Stevens on Tuesday, according to Liz Shorey, Fortuna’s deputy community development director. Commissioners raised questions about the odor, noise and traffic. City staff replied that the odor would largely be contained within the distillery facility.

Shorey added that the distillery will allow visitors to sample its product, but will not be offering more than three, one-fourth ounce samples.

”It is not going to be operated like a bar where people can stay for a couple of hours and have a lot to drink,” she said.

Planning Commissioner Paul Glennie said a member of the public, who lives near the proposed distillery site, commented that she had lived near a microdistillery before and that the odor was minimal.

Glennie said commissioners were also concerned about…to read the rest of this story, please click here.

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