CPD questions mayor on brew pub
The following letter was sent to Dewey Beach Mayor Diane Hanson with a copy submitted to the Cape Gazette for publication.
With the upcoming public hearing and critical vote on the brewery application this Saturday we would like to understand what research you have conducted in preparation for this discussion and vote. We want to have a full understanding of the issues at hand so we can share them with the property owners. We appreciate the hard work you have put into considering this application, and we know it is a complicated situation. Specifically, we would appreciate it if you would share any research you have regarding:
1. Safety and potential hazards associated with this type of manufacturing operation. The production of beer produces solutions of ethanol, a highly flammable liquid. The raw materials for fermentation and mashing processes involve the handling, storage, and milling of wheat and barley, which generate flammable dust. Grain roasting and drying require large quantities of fuel, hence all types of flammable materials (vapor, dust and gas) necessary for an explosion are present in the beer manufacturing process. Given the hazards associated with handling these materials, will there be a certified brew master on-site when brewing occurs? In addition, it seems quite risky to have this operation located directly adjacent to the Exxon gas station. We would appreciate your sharing any research you have done on these issues with us in advance of the meeting.
2. How Dewey will prepare for a potential hazard similar to the nitric acid leak that occurred at the Dogfish Head brewery in August 2013 that required evacuation of all persons within 500 feet of the facility and the use of a hazmat decontamination team. If such a leak were to occur at the proposed facility, it would mean that approximately three blocks of residents and vacationers would need to be evacuated. Should you vote to approve this operation, we would like to understand how the town will be prepared to deal with a potential emergency of this magnitude and whether Dewey Beach Police will work with the DEMA to prepare a plan? What is your position on this type of risk in a vacation resort?
3. Traffic issues. It is our understanding that because this is a manufacturing operation it will require regular deliveries of raw materials, pick up of material waste, supplies for the restaurant operations, and proposed buses for tours. What is the parking plan that is proposed? We think it would be unreasonable to expect the residential property owners on Saulsbury or any other street to accept the undue burden of commercial trucks using a residential street for delivery stops and bus-loading and hope the commission will prohibit such inappropriate usage of this residential street for this purpose. If permitted to use Saulsbury Street these tractor-trailers would have to pull down the street, turn around in a driveway and pull up in front of residential properties idling until deliveries are made or buses are loaded and unloaded. What is the plan to protect the neighbors from this, and will that include restricting use of adjacent residential streets?
4. Noxious odors. It is our understanding that the planning commission determined that there will be no way to control odors from the brewing operation which has now increased from the original proposed two days to five days a week. How does the town plan to mitigate any potential adverse effects on the neighboring residential properties, particularly those that are rental properties that could experience a true and measured loss in revenue because of this operation?
5. We would also like to understand the legal basis for approving a brewing operation. Since this is a critical aspect of an approval, we believe the public should have a chance to review and understand the town attorney's legal position on this. We assume he would have articulated that in writing to the council so that all of you have adequate time to review it prior to the meeting, and so there are no misunderstandings as there were with the Fair Share vote on the people's referendum. We hope the public will also have adequate time to review this and ask if you would please share a statement of the town's legal position to approve this as "ancillary" use in advance of the meeting. Since this will be a matter of public discussion and since the "ancillary" use is the basis for the approval of the entire project, it would not be attorney-client privileged but rather would be the supporting legal basis for allowing a "use" that does not appear to be a permitted use in our code. The opinion would merely provide the basis for the council making an informed zoning related decision.
We would appreciate it if you could get back to us so we have time to review, consider, and forward accurate information on the town's legal position to our readers. Thank you for your attention to this and your commitment to ensuring this is a "fit" for this location and is compliant with our zoning code.
Citizens to Preserve Dewey Steering Committee
Former Commissioner Joy Howell
Mayor Hanson's response: These questions are important questions and were all addressed and answered in the planning commission's pubic record, especially the March 1 hearing/meeting. The audio tapes of each meeting have been posted on the town's web calendar and draft minutes of the Feb. 22 and March 1 sessions should be on-line by today. The additional materials provided by the applicant in response to planning commission questions are part of that public record and should be provided by today as well.
CPD addendum: Upon review of the planning commission minutes now posted, it appears odor and parking concerns were addressed by the applicant. However at least one planning commissioner, and notably the individual who is a municipal land use engineering expert, still had significant concerns so strong that he voted against the project. CPD continues to be concerned that enforcement of the mitigation measures proposed is still questionable. And, the tortured legal rationale for how the town can allow a manufacturing use when our zoning code does not allow manufacturing continues to be highly problematic.