- Jefferson Weaver
Breweries could find home in Whiteville
Microbreweries could become part of downtown Whiteville if city council approves a recommendation from the planning board. City planner Hiram Marziano said the planning board approved a text amendment that will allow microbreweries – small-scale businesses that produce and sell craft beer – downtown. Marziano noted that microbreweries are a growing trend in downtown areas, and said a number of cities similar to Whiteville are seeing a growth in the small businesses. “I’m not saying we could be like some of the larger cities, and have a number of microbreweries downtown,” he said, “but they are becoming popular.” Marziano said that microbreweries draw a younger crowd to downtown areas, and can act as a hub for development of other nightlife. “People travel to try out microbreweries,” he said, and while they’re here, they’re looking in our stores and other businesses, and seeing what Whiteville has to offer. They can also lead to more restaurants and other tourist destinations. Microbreweries are a growing small business across the country.” The planner also noted that microbreweries and wine rooms were among the businesses foreseen in the proposed Vineland Rail Shoppes, a plan being studied by the Whiteville Downtown Development Commission to place small businesses in reused railcars downtown. “This is a unique, but popular type of small business,” Marziano said. “They adapt well, and draw a good customer base.” Although no “serious” inquiries have been made through the planning office, Marziano said the microbrewery change justifies the text change. “It’s not exactly like ‘Field of Dreams,’” Marziano said. “We aren’t saying if we build it, they will come, but if someone expresses an interest in opening a good small business here, we want to be ready to accommodate them.” In other action, the planning board also recommended approval by the city council to rezone property at 123 E. Columbus Street from R-6 Residential to Office and Institutional. The property is across from the fire department and beside the police station, Marziano explained, and is more suited to professional offices than residential rental property. Both measures will be given final consideration at the next city council meeting.