By Vicki Ikeogu
Monticello’s newest taproom and brewery has conquered an early hurdle on its way to opening its facility.
At the Tuesday, Aug. 1 planning commission meeting, commissioners unanimously voted to accept the conditional use permit presented by Bill and Penny Burt, owners of Rustech Brewing.
The proposed microbrewery is set to occupy about 2,000-square-feet of the building located at 213 Pine Street. According to the proposal, Rustech Brewing would occupy only half of the existing building. The remaining portion of the building would be occupied by other tenants.
“The most difficult aspect of this parcel is understanding how parking would work downtown,” said Steve Grittman, consulting city planner with Northwest Associated Consultants.
The property currently has 11 parking spaces in the front of the building and several angled spaces on the west side of the property adjacent to the city’s municipal parking lot.
The angled spaces, however, severely limit access to a drive aisle space on the west end of the building.
Grittman said city staff has recommended reconfiguring the west side parking to accommodate four parallel parking spaces to bring the total of onsite parking to 15 spaces.
But even with the reconfiguration of spaces, Grittman said city staff members were concerned about the increased burden on the city’s municipal lot.
Current parking regulations for a hospitality and restaurant style facility like Rustech Brewing require a minimum of 36 parking spaces.
Parking space requirements can be reduced by as much as 60 percent if the property owners open up their current parking spaces to cross parking with other businesses in the downtown area.
Even still, that agreement would leave Rustech Brewing short eight spaces of the needed 23 total.
Grittman indicated the hours of operation for Rustech Brewing – primarily in the late afternoon and evening – would not impose too much on the city’s parking lot.
Planning Commission Chair Brad Fyle said he did not see a problem with Rustech Brewing customers using the municipal lot as overflow parking.
“In fact, they are adding a few more parking spaces than most of the other businesses on that block,” he said. “I’m happy with the proposed parking lot.”
Commissioners also inquired about the other impacts the brewery would have on Monticello’s downtown including smell, noise and traffic.
“There’s nothing that you would really be able to hear (from the production),” said Bill Burt. “And I’ve talked with other breweries across the county and the only smell would be like a bread or yeast smell, similar to being next to a Subway. So, nothing too dramatic.”
The Rustech Brewing operation would be a five-barrel brewhouse, considerably smaller than other breweries in the area like Lupulin Brewery in Big Lake.
Because of the small operation, Burt said deliveries to the brewery would be made via pickup or small delivery truck.
The taproom will be designed to hold about 47 customers with the potential for outdoor seating. The Burts estimate brewing about 750 barrels onsite every year, except for the first year where the couple anticipates brewing around 325 barrels.
Bill Burt said he anticipates adding a small canning operation on site further down the road.
With the planning commission’s acceptance, the conditional use permit will be brought before the city council at the Aug. 14 meeting.
Vicki Ikeogu is a freelance reporter for the Monticello Times.