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Wilmington Defines Breweries in Land Development Code

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City of Wilmington
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The microbrewery business presents an economic development opportunity for southeastern NC.

Microbreweries encourage economic development, tourism, and neighborhood revitalization throughout North Carolina.  Now Wilmington is making it easier for entrepreneurs to tap into the business of craft beers.  

Though North Carolina is home to over one hundred breweries, only nine are east of I-95.  Senior City Planner Phil Prete says this leaves an opportunity for Wilmington to fill this gap in the southeast.  He says breweries could also revitalize the area by adapting older buildings.  But one of the primary difficulties in bringing this kind of business to Wilmington, says Prete, is that the land development code didn’t recognize breweries as a permitted use until this week:

"A brewery could be permitted as a manufacturing use in our industrial districts, and we’ve been trying to squeeze them in the restaurant district.  If it looked like a restaurant, acted like a restaurant, then we would fit it in where restaurants were allowed.  Or if it was a nightclub type establishment.  But what we’re finding is, it’s really like trying to squeeze a round peg into a square hole in some instances."

But, in line with the Garner Economic Development Report’s recommendations, Wilmington is tearing down this barrier to business.  There are now land use classifications for microbreweries, which are under 25 thousand square feet, and small regional breweries, which are under 75 thousand square feet.  Large breweries will still be kept in the industrial districts.