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Village Zoning Appeals Board— Distillery, preschool get variances

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S & G Artisan Distillery is closer to being approved for an increased tasting room at its production facility at MillWorks on Walnut Street. At its meeting last week Village Board of Zoning Appeals approved a variance allowing the business to increase the floor space used for retail sales from 10 percent to up to 25 percent. The Village approved a similar request for the Yellow Springs Brewery in May.

Village Zoning Administrator Tamara Ennist and Manager Laura Curliss had recommended that the zoning board favor the variance for several reasons. The pre­cedent set by the brewery has thus far not produced any public complaints or traffic problems, and has resulted in just one parking complication. In addition, while the Village currently allows just 10 percent of the floor space in light industrial zones (such as where MillWorks is located) to be used for retail, in the final draft of the updated Zoning Code, the Village increased the maximum floor space for retail use to 30 percent. The new code is scheduled for a first reading at Village Council’s meeting Monday, Aug. 12.

While the variance gets the business closer to obtaining the conditional use permit needed to expand the tasting room, S & G owners Meg Solomon-Gujer and Steven Gujer and Hajo Scheuner don’t expect the redesign to happen immediately, but perhaps sometime next year, Gujer said this week. The distillery opened in 2011 in the 1,000 square-foot production space at the center of the business park and produced its first batch of The Spirits of Yellow Springs Apple Pie Moonshine last fall. The proprietors plan to introduce new flavors and other product lines in the future, including a 60-proof version of the apple pie and Sneaky Monk, a walnut liqueur.

Preschool gets second nod

At the same Zoning Board meeting last week, the Village approved three variances allowing the Children’s Montessori Cooperative to operate a small preschool at 107 Tower Court. Village Planning Commission would need to approve a conditional use permit in order for the school to open. On June 10 the planners conditionally approved the school, pending the outcome of the zoning issues.

Regarding the zoning variances, the school, located in Residence B zone, needed variances for an existing side-yard setback of five feet, a 7,350-square-foot lot size and access to only a local street. According to the application prepared by Village Zoning Administrator Ennist, currently the Village code requires that schools in R-B provide a minimum 10,000 square feet of lot area, a side yard setback of 15 feet and access to a primary, secondary or collector thoroughfare. Though according to Ennist, the code does not differentiate between a public elementary, middle or high school and a small private preschool. The Montessori Cooperative currently has about six students and expects to cap enrollment at 14 students, according to Montessori teacher Melanie Ricart.

According to Village Manager Curliss’s analysis, the most significant concern about the proposal was the increase in traffic to the small street during pick-up and drop-off times.

“The impact on the neighborhood traffic will be significant,” Curliss wrote in the variance application.

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