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Empire brewery submits five new project studies, changes building plans

Noise, odor, visual, archeology and traffic impacts all determined minimal

Empire Brewing Company owner David Katleski, right, used a site plan map to show May 6 public hearing attendees a to-scale size comparison of his brewery's 18,000 square feet to the sizes of Cazenovia High School and a typical Wal-Mart. Project opponents said all three were roughly of equal footprint. Katleski used a bright yellow piece of paper, cut to the shape and map-scale size of the 120,000 square-foot high school and overlaid it on the brewery site. He then did the same with a bright pink piece of paper, cut to the shape and map-scale size of a typical 185,000 square-foot Wal-Mart. Finally, he held all three map-scale building pieces together on the site. The grey brewery building was dwarfed by the other two. Audience members were audibly impressed and amused by the comparisons.

Empire Brewing Company owner David Katleski, right, used a site plan map to show May 6 public hearing attendees a to-scale size comparison of his brewery's 18,000 square feet to the sizes of Cazenovia High School and a typical Wal-Mart. Project opponents said all three were roughly of equal footprint. Katleski used a bright yellow piece of paper, cut to the shape and map-scale size of the 120,000 square-foot high school and overlaid it on the brewery site. He then did the same with a bright pink piece of paper, cut to the shape and map-scale size of a typical 185,000 square-foot Wal-Mart. Finally, he held all three map-scale building pieces together on the site. The grey brewery building was dwarfed by the other two. Audience members were audibly impressed and amused by the comparisons. Photo by Jason Emerson.

Archaeological study: The entire property was plowed and studied, and Alliance Archaeological Services determined project impacts would be “minimal,” and “no further investigation was recommended.”

Traffic study: Empire actually has had two traffic studies completed (the first was criticized by project opponents as not detailed enough) by Jim Napolean & Associates, and both determined there would be no impact “to any significant degree” from the brewery.

“These five studies all came out very favorable, which is what I’ve been saying all along,” Katleski said.

All five study reports are in the public record as part of the planning board records for the brewery project, and can be viewed by members of the public at the village offices.

In addition to the study results, Katleski also revealed at the meeting that he has changed the building design plans for the brewery in order to conform better to the numerous community concerns he has been hearing in recent weeks — most specifically that the current building plan is too big, too unattractive and not visually in tune with the historic and cultural heritage of the Cazenovia area. He called the new design “something softer” than previously conceived.

The new design is shorter — 47-feet-high hop houses versus 50-feet-high — and slightly smaller; the angle of the building has been turned slightly and the employee parking been reduced from 40 to 25 spaces; tour bus parking has been added to the parking lot; and more natural buffers (predominantly evergreen trees) have been added around the property to shield the view from neighbors. The previously-designed fields of hops and lavender on the property will remain as planned.

The overall aesthetic design of the 18,000-square-foot brewery building itself — which opponents have decried as nothing more than a boxy, ugly warehouse look — has also been changed. Previous plans called for a main building 33-feet high in the front and 36-feet high in the back, with three hop houses in front each measuring 50 feet tall. The front façade of the brewery had a historic hops barn look with stone bases, weathered-board uppers and a synthetic slate roof, while the sides and back were a simple square configuration of wood and batten siding.

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