Collingswood, New Jersey

Collingswood to introduce ordinance to allow craft breweries in Borough

Collingswood officials are drafting an ordinance to allow craft breweries in the Borough. The Borough’s ordinance would stipulate that breweries could not serve food, even if state regulations change to permit food.

These preliminary steps come after months of meetings, feedback and interviews with residents, entrepreneurs and experts in the craft brew field. In early 2015, officials were contacted by several brewers interested in opening a craft brewery and tasting room in Collingswood. The brewers cited a 2012 state law that eased restrictions on microbreweries, allowing them to manufacture and sell directly to consumers without a liquor license. Since Collingswood is a dry town, there were no restrictions on this type of establishment. The Borough placed a temporary ban on craft breweries to research how a brewery might fit in to the fabric of Collingswood’s community and business districts.

Officials spent the better part of spring gauging interest in having a brewery and tasting room. Polls were taken at town meetings and feedback was requested through a letter in the Town Crier and social media.

“The overwhelming response from residents has been in favor with a firm expression that breweries would be a great complement to our business district,” said Collingswood Mayor James Maley.”There was little to no concern that this would affect the family-friendly nature of Collingswood or cause an unruly bar scene. Most people love that they can shop locally in Collingswood and it turns out good craft beer is no exception.”

The only major concern came from the town’s restaurateurs, who feared that craft breweries would eventually be given permission by the state to serve food, giving them an advantage over their BYO establishments. The new ordinance will tighten restrictions to prevent any impact from future changes in state law from affecting the Borough’s local zoning laws prohibiting food.

“We learned a lot in the past few months. Craft breweries don’t typically keep late hours and they’re restricted from having TVs or bar games. They’re limited in what they can serve. Most of the brewers are only interested in making good beer; they don’t want to entertain people or be involved in running a kitchen,” said Maley. “After learning more about the business model, we felt it could be a good fit and our merchants and residents agreed. The consensus was that people would visit a Collingswood brewery to grab beer before heading to restaurants or even just visit regularly as a new destination in town.”

The first reading of the ordinance is expected to be introduced at the July 6 Commission Meeting.

About Collingswood:
Collingswood is a historic NJ town 10 minutes outside Philadelphia. Known for its eclectic downtown and BYO restaurant scene it has taken home national recognition including being named a Top 10 Transformed Neighborhood by Forbes, the Best Place to Go Car Free by Men’s Journal magazine, a Classic Town of Greater Philadelphia by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and a Great Place in America (Haddon Avenue) by the American Planning Association. For more information visit www.collingswood.com.

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