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Forsyth County government proposes alcohol code changes
May pave way for craft production
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FORSYTH COUNTY -- It may soon be easier for small breweries and wineries to bring their craft to Forsyth County.

At a work session on Tuesday, Forsyth County commissioners voted 4-1, with District 5 Commissioner Jim Boff opposed, to begin the process to change the county’s alcohol code to allow smaller, or craft, alcohol production.

If approved, the change would mean that craft breweries or wineries – those that produce less than 20,000 barrels a year – would not require a heavy industrial district, or M2, zoning.

“They want to take it from a small brewery to a little bit larger brewery,” said Robert Long, vice president of economic development for the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, “and when they’re ready to take that big jump where they do want to go to an M2 building, where they are a larger-scale brewery, they have to have enough volume to justify that jump.”

Long said he has been working with an individual “looking for a meadery, which would be farmhouse wine,” and they have been unable to find land that is properly zoned and less than 2,000 square feet.

“You have a gentleman who’s looking to start a business, who lives here and currently works here in the county, and there is no option for him in our ordinance to do this micro-winery,” Long said.

Public hearings are required to precede a vote on the change, though a date was not given at Tuesday’s meeting.

Earlier this year, the county made changes that allowed brewpubs — restaurants that brew their own beer — to sell growlers, which typically resemble a glass jug, of beer brewed on premises directly to customers.

Last month, the commission voted to begin the process of changing the alcohol code for art studios, beer festivals and mixed use developments.