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Mills River adopts 10-year building pact with Sierra Nevada

MILLS RIVER — The Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and Mills River Town Council have ensured that future development on the 180-acre brewery campus will remain in the town of Mills River.

The Mills River Town Council approved the voluntary annexation of an 80-acre wooded parcel that the Chico, Calif., company bought in July of 2012 next to the site of its new brewery. The council also zoned the parcel to allow the same wide variety of brewing, bottling, retail and hospitality uses allowed on the 100 acres the company is already developing and adopted a 10-year development agreement that ensures regulations won't change.
State law allows agreements between local governing bodies and developers for large-scale projects when investors risking substantial capital want assurances that development rules will remain unchanged "throughout the extended period of development."
Permitted uses spelled out in the development agreement include processing and distribution of food and beverage, bottling of beer and other products, child care, medical facilities, cafeterias, restaurants and pubs, catering operations, indoor and outdoor recreation facilities and entertainment venues, solar panels, windmills and recycling operations for alternative energy generation, gift shops, overnight lodging (such as beer camp cabins) associated with the brewery and agriculture (the company plans to grow some food on site for its restaurant and pub).
"We have no plans whatsoever for it," said Stan Cooper, co-manager of the Mills River brewery. "The main reason to annex the property was two-fold. It was landlocked and kind of an oddball piece of property and we wanted it to be tied to the development agreement."
The original parcel the company bought was in Ferncliff Industrial Park, owned by the Fitzpatrick family. The extra 80 acres to the west was outside the industrial park. The parcel adjoins the Mountain Horticulture Research Station.
The annexation moves the property from the Fletcher to the Mills River fire district.
Sierra Nevada bought the 80-acre parcel of land from the Shuford family for $1.15 million, more than double the assessed taxable value of $405,100.
The company will face a slightly lower tax burden when it switches from Fletcher to Mills River. The Fletcher fire tax rate is 10 cents per $100 valuation; the combined rate of the town of Mills River and the Mills River fire district is 9.74 cents.