The zone change we require for our expansion project has been approved by the Hamilton Village board. However they have made approval of our project contingent upon providing public pedestrian access to and from the site.
As we described after our last planning board meeting, the right of way is too narrow and the slope is too steep to accommodate a sidewalk next to State Route 12B where our brewery will be located. This means, any pedestrian access would have to go through private Colgate University property to get from the existing sidewalk all the way to the brewery site. Still no definitive response from the University as to whether they are willing to explore this with us. We put together a very preliminary proposal for a foot trail that you can see here.
Our next planning board meeting is 12/9, so this has become extremely urgent as the pedestrian accommodation plan is the last piece we need for project approval. We must have our approvals by January if the project will go forward. If we don’t break ground this spring, we’re dead in the water. So, we need to go to this next meeting prepared with a plan that the Planning Board can approve that night on 12/9. This gives us little time. We are trying very hard to get a positive response from Colgate. We are also hopeful that The Village won’t really tie the approval of our project inextricably to the whims of a private property owner, though we are concerned. We are also frustrated that the Village has waited until just recently to make pedestrian access a condition when we’ve been in discussion with them about this particular property for 15 months now. Had we known, all those months ago, that the Village would make pedestrian access a contingency of our project’s approval, we could have planned for it and either found a solution OR decided the project wouldn’t be feasible with the pedestrian access requirement and jumped ship before investing large sums of money and countless hours into this for over a year and a half now. Now we have just 3 weeks to come up with a solution. We are at the point of no return here. If Colgate isn’t willing to help us accommodate pedestrian traffic to the site and the Planning Board and Village Board of Trustees is unwilling to budge on this issue, Good Nature will not be able to build its brewery in Hamilton.
Here is some important background information for you all who may not have been following along:
– GNB would LOVE a path/sidewalk to our new brewery! We just don’t have control over the outcome because the path would have to run on property that does not belong to us.
– The property wasn’t originally in the Village of Hamilton. It was in the town of Hamilton. This project would have been allowed under the town’s existing zoning (Commercial 1). The town’s zoning is exactly why we chose this site. The Village required that the parcel be annexed into the Village because we are proposing to run Village Utilities to the site. We agreed to this because we believed the Village wanted our project in Hamilton and would act in good faith to accommodate us. Had we not been annexed into the Village, however, sidewalks wouldn’t have been an issue and we could have build our new brewery without issue (just with vastly different plans for water and wastewater.)
– The mayor makes the argument that we are a “high volume retail establishment” and not allowing for pedestrian access would be irresponsible on the Village’s part. Though, the Village has not offered to help with any of the costs, and seems to balk at the fact that it is unfeasible from not just a cost standpoint but an engineering standpoint to run a traditional public sidewalk along route 12B in the public right of way.
We have argued that:
1) We are, in fact, building a manufacturing facility with ancillary retail. We are maintaining our downtown, pedestrian friendly retail establishment (Our Tap Room on Broad Street in Hamilton).
2) the total square footage of our year round retail space at the new facility is actually smaller than our existing Tap Room downtown.
3) when we host special events or have higher volumes of visitors, we are exploring offering a shuttle back and forth between the new facility and our downtown tap room
4) The retail aspect of our project is as a tourist destination. People will be traveling in vehicles, from a distance, to get to our site. Locals will continue to shop at the Tap Room as the offerings will be the same and, in fact, more diverse.
Our next public meeting is 12/9. We are hopeful that we will have a solution for the pedestrian access issue by the time of our Planning Board Meeting on 12/9. Good Nature’s future now hinges on whether or not the Planning Board finds our proposal acceptable and, equally as important, whether Colgate is willing to help us find a solution. We encourage Hamilton Village Community Members & members of the press to attend this next meeting!
If you can’t attend, but would like to support our project, consider writing a letter to the Village Board of Trustees and/or the Hamilton Village Planning Board. Another option is to submit that letter and ask that someone read it at the next public meeting.
If you send an email, we recommend emailing all of the board members at once:
Bob McVaugh <[email protected]>
Russ Lura <[email protected]>
RuthAnn Loveless <[email protected]>
Jen Servidio [email protected]
Sandra Carter [email protected]
Don Forth [email protected] (Codes Enforcement Officer)
Or, the Address is Attn: Don Forth 3 Broad Street Hamilton, NY 13346. You can request that your letter be submitted as part of the public record by having it added to the Planning Board’s agenda on 12/9.
We sincerely appreciate you support and hope we’ll be making more beer for you all in no time!
Carrie Blackmore, GNB Co-Founder