Small brewery seeks RH ZBA nod

Jakob Cirell is seeking an interpretation from the Red Hook Zoning Board of Appeals that would allow him to open a small brewery on a rented property at 214 Oriole Mills Road.

The 38 acre property, just behind the Red Hook Golf Club and near Camp Rising Sun, consists of a large horse farm that has not been operational for many years. Because the property does not lie within the agricultural business district in the town, brewing is not considered a principal allowed use. But the RD3 zone it is in does allow for residents to process local agricultural products.

And Cirell said that hops and barley are being increasingly grown in the state and he intends to acquire all needed products from with the local area.

The ZBA will have to decide if a small-scale brewery operation would be consistent with the letter and spirit of the code. ZBA member Kenneth A. Anderson voiced concerns over the state of the property, which, he said after a site visit, was “a complete disaster.” He noted that the majority of the landscape was overgrown, the buildings were in a state of disrepair and rusted farm equipment littered the grounds.

Cirell, a resident of Rhinebeck, acknowledged that extensive renovations may be needed but said he was willing to put in the investment.

The board agreed that all members should make an effort to visit the property before the next ZBA meeting, at which a public hearing will be held.

As the ZBA’s legal counsel has repeatedly stated, a zoning interpretation is supposed to be based on the reading of the letter and intent of the law, not the specifics of a particular project or applicant, since any decision will affect all properties in that zone.

ZBA Chair Nick Annas claimed that site visit was needed because the nature of applications often change during the process.

Cirell said he first began brewing at home as a hobby but has since worked in professional breweries. New York State is home to an increasing number of breweries in recent years as a local brewing and microbrewing trend spurred interest in smaller production lines of craft beers.

Unfortunately, the name Red Hook Brewery is already in use by a company based in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

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