Chesterton Tribune



BZA approves variance with conditions for distillery at old Westchester Lanes

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The Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals has approved a variance which will allow Vern Brown, owner of The Chesterton Brewery, to operate a distillery in the old Westchester Lanes bowling alley, 124 N. Eighth St.

The board also approved a special exception, which will allow the owner of the building, Lukas Weldon, to rent storage space in the facility to the owners of RVs, boats, and jet skis.

Members voted unanimously at their meeting Thursday evening to grant both the variance and the special exception, although numerous conditions were attached to both.

The distillery itself will be run in the former lounge area of the building; the storage space, in what used to be the bowling alley, whose lanes have long since been stripped out. One of the conditions attached to the special exception: that a three-hour rated firewall must be constructed separating the two businesses.

Conditions attached to the use variance include the following:

-- Brown must obtain a distiller’s permit from both the State of Indiana and the federal government.

-- He must install a spirit safe and may have no more than 120 gallons of spirit in the actual distillery portion of the building at any one time; should he wish to store an additional 120 gallons on site, he may only do so on the indoor storage side of the building.

-- The motor and switches for the still must be explosion proof.

-- The grinding, milling, and storage of grains and cereals must be done on the indoor storage side.

-- Should the distillery operation be closed for 90 consecutive days, the use variance will terminate, unless that closure is mandated by local, state, or federal authorities.

Conditions attached to the special exception include the following:

-- A three-hour rated firewall must be constructed separating the distillery from the indoor storage business.

-- Access to the storage facility will be by appointment only.

-- No repair or “hot” work will be permitted in the facility.

-- Gas tanks may hold no more than 25 gallons of fuel, no bottled gases or propane tanks will be permitted on site, and all vehicle batteries must be removed.

“I am generally comfortable with the conditions,” Associate Town Attorney Julie Paulson said. “I believe the department heads are generally comfortable with them as well.”

Fire Chief John Jarka concurred. “We’ve come to a very good understanding and I am comfortable with these conditions,” he said.

“I think this is a good location for this business,” Member Joel Carney remarked. “My concern last month was that the department heads would be comfortable with the conditions.”

“Mr. Brown came to this community and was willing to take a chance opening his brewery,” Member Jim Kowalski said. “I wish more people would give back to the community as he has. I think this board wishes him every success.”


Posted 8/28/2020




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