Chesterton Tribune

BZA okays variance for 'nano' brewery

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The Town of Chesterton is going to be home to the area’s only small brewery.

At its meeting Thursday night, the Board of Zoning Appeals voted 5-0 to grant a use-variance allowing Hunters Brewing LLC to operate at 1535 S. Calumet Road.

Hunters Brewing, as it happens, is one of the state’s very few female-owned breweries, the business of majority owner Amy Gentry and Chesterton native Justin Reisetter.

It’s also a “nano-brewery”—even smaller than a craft brewery—and will make 31-gallon one-barrel batches of artisan crafted ales using locally sourced and seasonal products, Gentry told members.

The business will feature a “comfortable,” smoke-free tasting room for adults 21 and older, a small sales area, and a very limited menu. Under state law there is a “minimum food requirement” for small-brewery permits “and we’re meeting that,” Gentry said. At some point in the future, Gentry and Reisetter will consider more extensive food offerings.

Hours of operation have not yet been determined but Hunters Brewery is unlikely to open before 4 or 5 p.m. and will close around 10 or 11 p.m., Gentry added. “This is not a last-call establishment. It’s not a place that’s going to be open to 2 a.m.”

Gentry did say that the use-variance is a prerequisite for obtaining federal and state permits. To give some idea of the nano-nature of their operation, Gentry noted that a small-brewing permit allows the brewing of up to 30,000 barrels annually. Hunters Brewing, in contrast, will be turning out “hundreds of barrels.”

At a public hearing prior to the vote, Heather Ennis, executive director of the Chesterton/Chamber of Commerce, spoke in favor of the petition. “The Chamber of Commerce is interested in entrepreneurial growth,” she said. “I know beer enthusiasts who will visit Chesterton just to try out the new brewery. We’re excited about the opportunity of having them in Chesterton.”

Town Manager Bernie Doyle, speaking on behalf of the town, also endorsed the petition. “Officially the Town of Chesterton sees this as an economic driver,” he said.

Three others also spoke in favor the petition, friends and family of Reisetter, who all took note of his skills as a brewer and his great interest in setting up shop in his hometown.

No one spoke in opposition to the petition.

Gentry did field a few questions from members. Sig Niepokoj wanted to know the maximum occupancy.

That hasn’t been determined yet but Reisetter guessed around 40. Doyle, for his part, said that staff has calculated that there are 25 parking spaces available at the location.

Jim Kowalski asked whether the brewery would be using propane during the heating process.

No, just natural gas, Gentry said, for which the space has already been plumbed.

Telecommunications at

Haines Collision

In other business, members voted 5-0 to schedule a public hearing at its next meeting, April 26, on the petition of Donald Haines, owner of Haines Collision at 1516 Broadway, for three variances:

•A use variance to allow the construction in an R-2 zone of a small pre-fabricated hut to house a fiber optic “regeneration point” between South Bend and Chicago, for Great Lakes Comnet of East Lansing, Mich.

•A development standard variance to allow the construction of that hut on a lot smaller than the minimum size permitted by Town Code.

•And a development standard variance to allow the erection of a six-foot fence around the hut, one foot taller than permitted by Town Code.

Aaron Bowie of Comnet told members that the regeneration point is needed to enhance the strength of the fiber optic signal as it travels to Chicago from South Bend. The further signal from its origination point, the weaker it gets, Bowie said.

In response to a query from Niepokoj, Bowie said that there will be “no strange noises” associated with the equipment; that there will be an emergency backup generator at the site but only for use in the event of a power outage; that there will be no storage at the site; and that there will be no microwave activity as part of the equipment’s operation.

Bowie noted that Comnet is under contract with Verizon to connect the regeneration point by cable to the cell tower on East Porter Ave. near the ambulance barn and that the Town of Chesterton could tap into it if officials wished.



Posted 3/24/2012