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KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The Knoxville Metropolitan Planning Commission gave approval to new zoning rules for breweries, wineries and distilleries.
The planning commission passed an amendment Thursday to zoning regulations and development standards for small breweries, wineries and distilleries in certain commercial and industrial zone districts.
The city's current ordinance doesn't specifically address brewpubs or breweries, wineries and distilleries with any size distinction.
It also prohibits brewing and distillation of malt beverages and liquors in certain parts of the city.
Eric Ohlgren is in the process of developing a railroad depot on Jackson Avenue in the Old City. He has big plans, which include retail space for a craft brewery and even a small moonshine distillery.
Currently, zoning regulations prohibit brewing or distillation of malt beverages and liquors in areas zoned in the general industrial district, where the depot is located.
"We're dealing with 50 or 60-year-old zoning regulations, so it's understandable that we have these road blocks in place, but at the same time, it's time to change them," Ohlgren said.
Ohlgren's plans would become a reality if the city eventually approves zoning changes which expand where breweries, distilleries and wineries can operate.
"We haven't really had that designation before as an allowed use in those zones, and so with the growing industry, we feel like the time is right to introduce that idea," said City of Knoxville Downtown Coordinator Rick Emmett.
City officials say they're looking into the zoning change because of a number requests from mostly downtown businesses looking to expand their establishments.
Linn Slocum owns Blue Slip Winery in the Old City. Slocum would like to move to a bigger building to accommodate more customers.
If zoning changes, she's wants to move the winery to the Southern Railroad Depot.
Slocum is currently negotiating to purchase the building.
"The city is being progressive in recognizing that craft breweries and wineries are up –and-coming trend," said Slocum.
Saw Works Brewery owner Adam Palmer says the company has outgrown its current facility.
The zoning change would allow Palmer to move the brewery into a bigger space, closer to downtown.
Palmer believes new zoning could mean more competition, something which he welcomes.
"We would like to have people to come into Knoxville just so they can visit multiple micro-breweries, wineries and distilleries," Palmer said.
The zoning changes still need final approval from the Knoxville City Council, which is expected to happen at a meeting scheduled for October 15.