Proposed Arlington Heights brewery, taproom gets planners' backing, but parking a concern
Arlington Heights plan commissioners approved plans Wednesday for a new local brewery called Arlington Beer Co., while also rejecting proposed capacity restrictions on its taproom intended to prevent parking congestion along the adjoining streets.
But the ultimate decision will be the village board's, when it soon considers the long-anticipated renovation of the property at 19 N. Hickory Ave.
Kathleen Egan, the owner and president of the new business, has owned the similar Itasca Brewing Co. for six years, in addition to working at Rush University Medical Center for the past 30 years.
"We're a small, independent, unique establishment," she said of the new business. "We're trying to create a welcoming family atmosphere."
The business would have no space of its own for parking, while an establishment of its type and size would normally require 60 spaces under village regulations.
Egan has entered into a three-year lease agreement with the Arlington Heights Park District for 26 spaces in its lot at nearby Recreation Park to supplement street parking.
But because neighboring businesses such as the Knights of Columbus hall next door already make much use of that street parking, the village staff proposed that capacity at Arlington Beer Co. be limited to 87 patrons -- or down to 50 patrons if the brewery ever lost its lease of the park district spaces.
An estimated 200 people could otherwise be on the property at peak times, according to village estimates.
The staff also recommended a requirement that the business bear the responsibility of monitoring capacity.
Egan expressed a willingness to live by the restriction, even though an existing limit on alcohol consumption -- 48 ounces per patron within 24 hours -- already affects her financial projections for the business.
"It's kind of a double whammy," Egan told plan commissioners. "This was something I wasn't expecting, a limit on my capacity."
Raymond Cordell, who operates the facility the Knights of Columbus use, said he welcomes improvements to the area but still is anxious about congestion, and the village staff's recommended capacity limits on Arlington Beer Co. helped cure it.
"Our concern has always been with parking," Cordell said. "Our members can't walk very far."
Well into their two-hour discussion of the proposal, some plan commissioners began to question putting the burden of the area's limited parking on the new business alone.
"Nobody else is restricted, yet we're going to do it here," Plan Commissioner Bruce Green said.
He suggested that the problem could be better solved by asking the area's businesses to cooperate and collaborate over their events and parking needs.
The vote on the recommendation -- without the capacity limits -- was 6-1, with Plan Commissioner Terry Ennes casting the dissenting vote.
"I think we're making a mistake by not following staff's recommendation on this," he said.
Even though Plan Commissioner Joe Lorenzini cast his vote with the majority, he also thought Arlington Beer Company was getting a big enough break through the variation from the 60 parking spaces it would otherwise be required to have.
A specific date has not yet been set for the business' review by the village board.