Planners expected to formally OK tasting room

ENCINITAS — Modern Times’ proposal for a 3,000-square-foot tasting room in downtown Encinitas is back before the Planning Commission this week, but the vote is expected to be more of a formality.

The Planning Commission voted in late July to approve the Point Loma brewery’s application, despite the city’s planning staff recommending the group deny the project. The 3-2 vote occurred after opponents and supporters of the project issued impassioned pleas to the commission for more than 90 minutes.

Commissioners Bruce Ehlers and Glenn O’Grady voted against the project. They both said they thought Modern Times was a good business looking to locate in the wrong location — downtown.

Both, citing statistics provided by the Sheriff’s Department and the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, said that downtown had too many alcohol-serving establishments.

Planning Commissioner Kevin Doyle, who cast the deciding vote, was poised to vote to deny the Point Loma-based brewery’s application, but reversed course after hearing from commissioners Greg Drakos and Al Apuzzo, who were decidedly in favor of the project.

City code requires the planning commission adopt findings to override the staff’s findings, which included that the tasting room would be detrimental to the adjacent properties, that the use is unsuitable for the location and that the impacts of the project would negatively affect the policies of the city’s General Plan.

The vote, which takes place Aug. 17, would formalize the approval and pave the way for opponents to appeal the project to the City Council, which is a real possibility.

The proposal calls for a 3,000-square-foot tasting room facility in a former retail building near the corner of D Street and Coast Highway 101, including 1,980 square feet of bar service area, 106 square feet of retail and the remaining square footage for a bar area, cold storage, restrooms and an office.

The tasting room would have a maximum capacity of 150 people.

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