Henrico code will need to change to attract more breweries

Henrico code will need to change to attract more breweries
Current code in Henrico is vague on breweries. (Source: NBC12)

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Henrico County leaders are looking to see if they can attract more breweries to the county, but first a county code will need to change.

Right now, officials say the code is just too vague and doesn't keep up with the increase of pubs, microbreweries and similar business that are succeeding in other parts of the Richmond area.

Tony Ammendolia, who owns Final Gravity Brewing Company in Lakeside, says his love for brewing beer started at home. It eventually grew to a small supply shop. And with every glass he poured, his dream to open a brewery grew.

"It's always something I wanted to do but it didn't seem realistic," said Ammendolia.

That was until state laws were passed making it easier for craft brewers to grow their business.  Ammendolia already had a retail store so he was able to get county approval to attach the brewery to it.  He says it's been nothing but positive.

"We are kind of a community spot here in Lakeside," he said.

However, current zoning language in Henrico could make it difficult for future business owners.

"It wasn't so difficult for me to do what I wanted to do," said Ammendolia.  "But if you were brand new to it and didn't want to open up a shop or restaurant and you just wanted to open up a brewery, you probably might look elsewhere first."

That's because current county code is vague. According to the Department of Planning, it only allows the "brewing or distilling of liquors" in an industrial district. There's nothing specific regulating small scale craft breweries, brew pubs or tasting rooms.

Henrico leaders say they're not sure if it's had a negative effect on breweries coming to the county, but it's a business that is booming in the city of Richmond. And Henrico wants to see if that success can spread into the county.

Ammendolia believes it can.

"I think there's a lot of room for a lot more businesses to open up, a lot more revenue to be created," he said.

On Tuesday, the Henrico Board of Supervisors will take up the issue of breweries and exploring changing the county code. Options could include looking to see if a business could open up independent of a store or restaurant and in a non industrial area.

The county planning director says while the ball is rolling, there is no timeline yet as to when the county code will change.

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