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Neighbors question city's action on breweries

Sanctuary Brewing Co. plans to open in August on First Avenue East. Sanctuary Brewing Co. plans to open in August on First Avenue East.

Lisa McDonald and Joe Dinan previewed downtown Hendersonville’s first microbrewery on a Friday night, promising a meat-free space dedicated to helping animals and slaking the craft beer crowd’s thirst for a tasty brew.

Like Hendersonville’s pioneering Southern Appalachian Brewery in the Historic Seventh Avenue District, the Sanctuary Brewing Co. has an urban industrial feel. Its main entrance is a double garage door. The echo from SAB’s indoor-outdoor space on Locust Street is not entirely accidental. SAB owners Kelly and Andy Cubbin have been mentoring McDonald and Dinan. The Cubbinses are dog friendly, too, though not quite as emphatically as Sanctuary’s owners.
“We have been rescuing and fostering and adopting out animals,” McDonald said. “We figured out a way to combine both of those things and it was a no-brainer. We just decided to go for it.”

Neighbors object

The Sanctuary and potentially other brewpubs were made possible when the City Council voted unanimously on July 2 to change the zoning code. Now microbreweries are allowed throughout the central business district. That was not welcome news to Kim Rosenberg, an attorney who owns a title insurance agency and a residential loft in a historic building at 104 N. Main St. Her property is across the alley from the new brewpub.
“I think microbreweries downtown is a good idea, in the right spot,” she said. “I’m very pro-small business. In the right environment, it would be a good thing. I’m just not sure that’s the right space, considering the residential, considering that there’s no outdoor space, considering the parking.”
Although people compare the Sanctuary and Southern Appalachian Brewery, the two really are not alike, she said.
“They’re not in downtown,” she said. “They’ve got plenty of parking. They have an outdoor space with a fence. This property behind us is just not like that. If people bring children, there’s no place for them to run around here. Comparing the two I don’t think is a great comparison.”
Rosenberg said she was disappointed that the council ignored the Planning Board recommendation, which split 4-4 on whether to allow microbreweries as a conditional use instead of a permitted issue. A conditional use would have required Board of Adjustment review of things like hours, parking, noise and distance from residential property. The council voted for the less restrictive option, amending the city code to allow microbreweries throughout downtown.
“There’s no constraint because it’s a permitted use,” Rosenberg said. “There’s a noise ordinance and what people are saying is if it’s too loud you can call the police. If they park in my space I can have them towed. Nobody wants to have property that you can only enjoy if you’re calling the police on your neighbors and you’re having people towed all the time.”
Because the city’s action applied across the board, it did not hold a public hearing on the new brewpub on East First Avenue. In fact, Rosenberg got notified as an affected property owner only when the Sanctuary’s application came up before the city Historic Preservation Commission.
“These are just discussions that I think are important if the city is going to encourage downtown living and residential use,” she said.
Council members Ron Stephens and Steve Caraker sat in on the meeting last week when Rosenberg and Realtor Lee Linhart, who also owns left property nearby, raised objections to the city’s decision.
“She had a lot of fear,” Stephens said. “It became obvious to me that she was not familiar with that kind of brewery. You have a lot of professional people stopping in after work. People bring their children and dogs. She was painting a picture of people coming out in the alley that would urinate and throw up and fight like you see in the movies in a bar.
“She was upset with me because she thought her property value was going to decrease and I told her professionally that I didn’t think it would because it’s downtown property and you expect to have things like that downtown,” said Stephens, who is a Realtor.
Police Chief Hubert Blake, who also attended the meeting, assured Rosenberg and Linhart that officers would monitor the new brewpub, Stephens said.
Stephens said he does not regret the council’s decision.
“I think this is going to bring several more, two or three more of these breweries, because people support them,” he said. “These things are popping up everywhere.”

Partnering with animal rescue

McDonald said she was aware of neighbors’ concerns.
“I think they’re a little nervous that we’re going to end up being something that we’re not, like we’re going to bring in a rowdy bunch,” she said. “We have no hard liquor, we’re closing early, we’re going to try to stay very family- and animal-focused.”
She expects the Sanctuary to attract a fairly sedate crowd.
“None of the breweries in Asheville really have that vibe at all (of rowdiness), I don’t think, and we’re probably closest to Southern Appalachian if anything,” she said. “They just have lovely people there and they do great things. They’re kind of mentoring us.”
The couple plans to donate part of the proceeds of the business to animal rescue organizations. So far they’re partnering with Brother Wolf of Asheville, Blue Ridge Humane Society in Hendersonville and Full Circle Farm sanctuary in Burnsville. Friday night’s sneak preview attracted several dozen supporters, neighbors and guests sampling Hendo Weisse, Rye So Serious pale ale, Orange Whip and Piper Down, a chocolate stout. A home brewer for the past eight years, Dinan earned his brewers certification and has been working at an Asheville brewery fulltime. Blue Ridge Humane Society brought two Jack Russell mix puppies. And McDonald brought, Ollie, her nine-month-old mini-potbelly pig that “should stay under 200 pounds.”
The couple is working with vegan vendors to supply prepackaged foods and partnering with Moe’s Barbecue, which, ironically, makes a delicious vegan sandwiches, according to McDonald.
The brewery may offer “some light music,” she said. “We haven’t booked anything yet. We want to make sure we’re being very conscientious of all the neighbors.”
Hours will be 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday.