Distillery zoning hits snag

Friday, May 12, 2017
Chapel Hill Town Attorney Todd Moore swears in Mike Faulkenberry as an alderman for the town at Monday’s meeting. The current board chose Falkenberry to fill the unexpired term of late Alderman Bucko Bryant.
Tribune Photo by Scott Pearson

The Chapel Hill Board of Aldermen is back at full strength after Monday’s monthly meeting.

Aldermen voted to appoint Mike Faulkenberry to the seat vacated by the passing of long-time alderman Bucko Bryant in January.

Faulkenberry was one of four residents who had interviewed with the board to fill the rest of Bryant’s term until 2018.

Alderman Horace Hill made the motion to appoint Faulkenberry, which passed 4-0. Alderman Jan Darnell abstained from the vote. Her mother-in-law had been one of the potential replacements.

The first action in permitting a bid to place a distillery in Chapel Hill hit a snag.

Copies of the ordinance before the board were not in the packets provided to aldermen before the meeting, leading Alderman Dottie Morton to object.

“I won’t vote on something I’ve just seen,” she said.

Morton said that she didn’t have an issue with the distillery, only with the late presentation of the resolution.

The town’s zoning guidelines do not currently include a distillery as an acceptable use within any of the categories. The ordinance would add such a use to areas zoned M-1 for manufacturing or B-2 for business, if approved as a special exemption.

The ordinance would require two readings before the aldermen to become law.

The partners in the proposed Wheeler’s Raid Distillery want to locate in Chapel Hill but need the zoning change to move forward with their plans.

They need a physical address for the facility in order to continue with the Federal permitting process.

Town Administrator Mark Graves said that a special meeting was already scheduled for May 31 in order to vote on the first reading of the town’s budget for the coming fiscal year. The acceptable use change to the zoning regulations would be added to that agenda.

Another measure dealing with alcohol did pass on first reading, despite some discussion and uncertainty.

A resolution was presented that would permit non-profit organizations to apply for one-time, special event beer permits.

The Chapel Hill Lions club is exploring the possibility of serving beer at their annual tractor pull, a requirement if they were to seek sponsorships from large beer brands.

The club has not had a vote of their full membership on the issue, but a representative said that they were trying to consider all of their options for revenue streams at the event.

“I don’t want to put it out there wide open,” said Darnell. “I’d approve it for you (the Lions).”

Such permits would still have to come before the beer board to be approved.

Alderman Marion Joyce presented several resolutions at the end of the meeting.

The board unanimously adopted her resolutions to add time clocks for employees at the water plant, sewer plant, and town hall, to sell surplus town street signs at auction, and to allow town employees to sell a week of unused sick time back to the town once a year.

Hill added a resolution to purchase large garbage cans for residents use for trash pickup.

Graves added that the public meeting on the transportation and land use plan being developed by the town would take place on Thursday, May 18 at 6:30 in the restaurant at Henry Horton State Park.