Village board approves zone change for Empire Brewing Company

Farmstead brewery project now continues forward with site plan and architectural review

— The Cazenovia village board unanimously agreed on June 11 to change the zoning of Empire Brewing Company’s land on Route 13 from a residential to a Planned Development District, and also to amend the village code to allow the milling of flour, feed or grain in the village. Both actions allow Empire to move forward with its project to build a farmstead brewery in the village of Cazenovia.

The zone change decision, in particular, has been the subject of months of public hearings, municipal meetings, land and use studies and community input, and, if the board had rejected the request, the brewery project would have been stopped in its tracks.

With the request approved, the project now continues moving forward at the village planning board level with site plan and architectural plan reviews, both of which were already ongoing simultaneously with the zone change application.

“I’m relieved,” said Empire Brewing Company owner and Cazenovia resident David Katleski after the vote. “But we still have site plan review and the formal architectural review to go. I hope it’s a smooth process.”

The zone change process had actually been delayed a few times, most recently when the final vote was changed from June 3 to June 11 because of some process details to finish up. Even the June 11 meeting almost didn’t happen because the board was waiting to receive an advisory opinion from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which did not arrive until that morning, said Village Attorney Jim Stokes.

The board’s June 11 meeting, which had about 15 attendees, started with one final public hearing on the zone change issue, during which only one resident spoke. Bill Brod, who is the publisher of the Syracuse New Times newspaper, said he was “confident” his 120,000 readers would “embrace the concept” of a beverage trail in Cazenovia, of which the Empire farmstead brewery would be an integral part.

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