A new microbrewery in the City of Howell has officials looking at amending their microbrewery ordinance. Old Post Brewery will be located at 121 South Walnut in Howell, on the site that was formerly the Post Office and more recently the Ann Arbor railroad office.

The owner was before the Planning Commission Wednesday night for site plan and special land use approval, which is necessary for a brewery in central business district zoning. During the public hearing, a couple neighboring homeowners voiced issues over parking and the brewery being next to a residential area. Chairman Paul Streng said they bring some valid concerns, chief among them is parking. The owner estimates an occupancy of 100 to 124 people. There is on-site parking, but only 13 spaces. A couple residents who live in the area spoke of concerns with overflow parking from a bar in an area that is already stressed for parking. One neighbor in the area who recently moved in said he is 30 years sober and is disappointed to hear the first thing going in at that location is a brewery.

Old Post Brewery is the first of its kind to apply since the City Council adopted an ordinance on where micro alcohol production facilities could be permitted within Howell. Community Development Director Tim Schmitt identified in a letter to the Planning Commission that he may have found a flaw in the ordinance through this Old Post process. Their ordinance ties together microbreweries and brewpubs. The 2016 ordinance requires brewpub applicants to have the same type of license from the state, which is a class C that also allows a full bar. Schmitt said this was not the intent of the ordinance, and that the types of businesses like this Howell wants to see are technically microbreweries. It was proposed that they begin looking at 2 changes. One is removing references to the state license, as it superfluous and needed to open anyway. The other is to change their definition of microbrewery to include a range of amounts that can be brewed each year. Schmitt said that Old Post could still operate under the old ordinance, just that it would be more work . With the Planning Commission wishing to pursue the changes, a public hearing will be held at their next meeting. They approved both the site plan and special land use permit unanimously, with Streng urging the owner to work with their new neighbors. (MK)