Carlsbad’s Planning Commission approves Palomar Brewing Co.

Carlsbad’s Planning Commission approves Palomar Brewing Co.
Palomar Brewing founder Ben Fairweather addresses the planning commission on the brewery and tasting room he hopes to open. Photo by Ellen Wright

CARLSBAD — After much back and forth, the Planning Commission approved a Conditional Use Permit for the owners of Palomar Brewing Company to open a tasting room at the site of their brewery on Loker Avenue West Wednesday night.

The permit passed with four in favor and two against.

Next, Founder of Palomar Brewing Ben Fairweather will need his tasting room application to get approval from the City Council.

The major problem some commissioners saw was a lack of parking spaces.

Project Planner for the city Chris Garcia said that according to city code, the site only requires six parking spaces, which it has.

The brewery and tasting room is in an industrial zone.

It’s also next door to Gunther Guns, which is why Chairperson Victoria Scully voted against the tasting room.

“Even though there are only going to be a couple of hours of cross over when (Palomar Brewing Company) is open and when (Gunther Guns) is open, I think it is a dangerous mix,” said Scully.

The Police Department didn’t voice any concerns with the proximity to a gun store, according to Garcia.

The brewery did not need approval because the use is already permitted but the accessory tasting room is not.

Fairweather has not yet determined the maximum occupancy of the 650 square foot tasting room.

Another issue that came up was food service.

Some of the commissioners worried that if Fairweather planned to eventually include food service, the parking would be even more of a problem.

Assistant City Attorney Jane Mobaldi guided the commission to just deal with the application on hand and not speculate about possible future uses.

Fairweather also told them he wasn’t planning to have food service.

Association Manager for the Poinsettia Business Park, Paul Danner, told the commission he was representing some other business owners in the park who were against the project because of parking constraints.

He said some businesses had purchased their building with designated parking spaces.

As a way to appease the parking situation, Fairweather said he is willing to purchase signs for the surrounding businesses to clearly designate their spaces, so his tasting room patrons won’t take up their parking.

The commission decided to designate certain hours for the tasting room to try and appease the parking situation.

The hours of operation that are allowed are:

Wednesday 4 to 8 p.m.

Thursday  4 to 9 p.m.

Friday 4 to 10 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday 11a.m. to 10 p.m.

Garcia said it’s likely that the parking lot will thin out later in the evening.

Fairweather still needs to enter into a mutual parking share agreement, according to Danner.

City Planner Don Neu said according to the city codes, the tasting room was in compliance with parking requirements.

Commissioner Kerry Siekmann and Marty Montgomery approved the plan without stipulation because Fairweather followed the city codes.

The tasting room still needs approval from the council and Fairweather hopes to have the tasting room operating by September.

The permit will also be revisited in a year, so if there are problems, the Planning Commission will be able to take action.

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