After years of perfecting recipes, then naming the brewery, securing funding, and seeing how close your dream is to becoming reality, there’s no doubt that breweries are eager to get brewing on a big scale. Even for existing breweries, expansion into a new, bigger facility is a really exciting thing. But, all too often, we’ve seen breweries set back big time by overlooking just how important zoning and permitting is to the overall business plan. It can be a costly surprise that potentially lurks in the future. But, it’s one that most breweries can avoid altogether by taking time and care up front with their lawyer.
Zoning ordinances restrict just how you may and may not use your property. Permits dig into the details, dictating things like whether your brewery can proceed with its construction plans or just how many people you’re allowed to have in the taproom. By not taking careful measures up front, a brewery can put its very business at risk. For example, if you sign a lease for a facility without being absolutely sure just how the property is zoned, you risk having to plead your case in front of a commission, which may or may not grant you a zoning variance to do all the things you planned to do when you signed that lease (see here, for example). Likewise, if you proceed with expansion plans without dotting those “i”s and crossing those “t”s, the city can stop your brewery’s construction in its tracks, causing very costly delays (see here, for example).
For a new or expanding brewery, it’s not only important to make sure you’re prepared to meet demand with the best beers you can possibly brew, but it’s also mission critical to make sure you go about executing your business plan in a way that won’t put your business on the line. Fortunately, tackling zoning and permitting issues with your lawyer in advance will help you get ahead of any potential issues and take smart steps to avoid them, avoiding costly “surprises” down the road.