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Microbreweries could be coming to Westmont business district

WESTMONT – The Westmont Village Board unanimously approved a text amendment updating the zoning code regulations to allow microbreweries and brewpubs in the B-2 general business district.

A public hearing will soon be held to gauge residents' opinions on the topic.

The B-2 district is intended for portions of the village where highway-oriented retail business establishments are appropriate as well as general business activity, according to the Village of Westmont Municipal Code.

The text amendment was prompted by a recent discussion with a local retailer who expressed a desire to expand their operation to accommodate a microbrewery, according to Westmont Village Planner Jill Ziegler. While the microbrewery would be supplemental to the existing business, microbrew operations involve brewing beer and often shipping the product elsewhere.

Historically, microbreweries have been located in the village's manufacturing (M) district, Ziegler said.

"We think that larger, more typical breweries should remain in the M-district," Ziegler said. "But these microbreweries and brew pubs would be ancillary to the retail."

However, over the last decade, microbreweries, brewpubs and and the culture surrounding microbrews have grown increasingly popular. Today, microbreweries are defined as a brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels of beer per year with 75 percent of more of its beer sold off site.

Brewpubs are a hybrid restaurant-brewery that sells 25 percent or more of its beer onsite, typically in a bar/restaurant setting.

As several Westmont officials mentioned, microbreweries could create concerns about increased noise, odor, vehicle activity and traffic.

Additionally, the board determined that a microbrewery's alcohol sales could not exceed 50 percent.

A date has yet to be set for the public hearing.

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