Empire Brewing Company’s petition for annexation of 22 acres off of Route 13 in Cazenovia was officially received and acknowledged during the village and town joint public hearing on July 31 in the Municipal Building.
David Katleski, a Cazenovia resident and owner of the popular Syracuse-based brewery, presented the business’s future plans to both village trustees and town councilors, providing aerial maps of the parcel and a cardboard mock up of the proposed farm brewery. For the past two years, the business has been brewing its unique beers at Green Point Beer Works in Brooklyn, as well as at their headquarters in Syracuse. Katleski said the popularity of the products has pushed production to full capacity at both locations.
“I founded Empire Brewing Company in 1994 and the business has grown in many ways,” Katleski said. “Our growth has been incredible, and we are now at capacity in Syracuse and Brooklyn … We’ve decided we would like to build a manufacturing plant [in Cazenovia]. It will be a little different than a typical brewery; we’d like to build something that’s world-class, with international appeal. We chose Cazenovia because my wife Karen and I live here with our family, and we love it here.”
The Cazenovia-based farm brewery Katleski has in mind for Empire Brewing Company would allow the business to continue its current level of operation and distribution, but also grow, much like the hops and herbs he plans to cultivate on the land.
“We would like to keep the brewery and ‘green’ as possible. We’re very concerned with the agricultural component of this. Because it’s a farm brewery, we want the public to understand … how beer is made. Instead of just manufacturing it and sending visitors to the tasting room, we want them to get a feel for what hops, barley and wheat look like,” Katleski said. “The property itself doesn’t have any sewage or water [systems], so we need to utilize the village sewage and water. In doing so, we would like to be annexed into the village itself. Right now, the parcel is on the town line.”
Also present at the meeting was the brewery’s director of brewing operations and facilities manager, as well as the company’s attorney and chosen architect Kurt Ofer – who helped design the acclaimed Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown.
The group fielded community members’ questions, regarding wastewater amounts and removal, as well as exterior design and site plan. The representatives assured the board members and public that the quantity of waste created will be well under the maximum amounts permitted, and some of the byproducts such as “spent grain” are in high demand as feed for farm animals.
According to Ofer, the main structure and hop barns will create a “sawtooth” design, and add an important economic asset to the community. “I don’t think there is a brewery out there that looks like it is truly operating and harvesting … when guests drive up,” he said. “I think putting all the facets into one visitor experience will add an incredible amount of value, both to them and to the community.”
The building would be accented with solar panels and house a new brewery and tasting room, as well as a gift shop and production center. Visitor and employee parking area will be hidden from view and link to the Cazenovia Preservation Foundation’s Burlingame Trail system, which runs behind the parcel.
Katleski said he would ideally like to break ground on the project by spring 2013 and open to the public by that fall, employing about 75 workers.
After short discussion amongst town councilors and village trustees, the two boards unanimously named the village of Cazenovia as the lead agency, and declared the project would be a Type I action, according to State Environmental Quality Review. As the potential environmental impacts are evaluated, the boards will soon decide whether to move forward with the proposal and approve annexation.
Pierce Smith is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at 434-8889 ext. 338 or firstname.lastname@example.org.