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Columbia Missourian

Board of Adjustment agrees to give North Central distillery a shot

By Hannah Cushman
February 12, 2013 | 11:14 p.m. CST
Van William Hawxby of DogMaster Distillery, LLC, asked the Columbia Board of Adjustment to allow him to operate a distillery in the North Central Columbia neighborhood. City planners had told him that would be prohibited because his property is zoned C-2 and a distillery would be considered an industrial use.

COLUMBIA — The Board of Adjustment voted unanimously Tuesday to issue a conditional use permit that will allow operation of a micro distillery in the North Central Columbia neighborhood.

The property at 210 St. James St. is zoned C-2, a designation that includes a wide swath of uses, including breweries and bars — but not distilleries. Attorney Skip Walther argued before the board on behalf of his client, Van Hawxby of Dogmaster Distillery, LLC. Walther pointed to several downtown businesses that operate similarly to the proposed distillery despite having the same zoning designation.

Lakota Coffee Co. on Ninth Street, for example, roasts and sells coffee in-house. Broadway Brewery brews and sells beer on site. The distilling of spirits is "of similar character," Walther argued. The zoning ordinance permits like uses, even if they are not explicitly listed.

Besides, the new distillery's primary function will be commercial, with drinks available a la carte and by package Thursday through Sunday nights. With its small seating area and intended higher-end clientele, the atmosphere Walther described seemed more akin to a cocktail lounge than a college bar.

The idea of a reprieve for "diverse, mature adult clients" appeals to North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association President Pat Fowler.

During public comment, Fowler acknowledged initial reservations she and other neighbors had about the new business. The process to address those concerns was "time consuming," she said, and involved consulting the Columbia Fire Department and zoning authorities.

The answers Fowler received, though, proved satisfactory. On the whole, she said, her neighborhood welcomes Hawxby and his idea.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.