Littleton gives OK for small breweries, distilleries, wineries

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By Ramsey Scott

Littleton could become the new small-craft adult beverage capital of Colorado. 

The city will now allow small breweries, distilleries and wineries in commercially zoned spaces. Previously, those businesses were allowed only in industrially zoned areas. 

The city has already heard from businesses in all three fields interested in opening up shop in Littleton, said Community Development Director Glen Van Nimwegen.  

“We had one of each — a winery, a brewery and one distillery talk to us,” Van Nimwegen said. “They’re little guys who’ve been doing this in their garage. They think they have a good product and want to see what they can do.”

Van Nimwegen said the changes could open Littleton to a growing sector of the economy. 

“I hope so. I think where we can really use the help is in some of the shopping centers that have 50 percent vacancies and spaces that are 10,000 feet or larger,” Van Nimwegen said. “It’s hard to find a tenant to fill that slot.”

The new businesses are required to have a tasting room and would be limited to about 6,000 square feet downtown. Businesses that opened in commercial spaces outside downtown wouldn’t have a size limit. 

Van Nimwegen said the nature of brewing, distilling and winemaking creates a natural cap on business size.

“I think there’s a real possibility it opens up a niche part of the economy that’s growing. And if we can plug them in and fill some of our holes in shopping centers around town, I think it can really help,” Van Nimwegen said. “It seems like it’s a growing thing. It’s starting out in someone’s garage and then taking the next step, and that’s good, positive economic growth.”

Several members of City Council during its Nov. 19 hearing were concerned about odors from the brewing and distilling processes being a nuisance for neighbors. The previous city code didn’t allow any odors or emissions to be produced by businesses in town.

Van Nimwegen said emissions would be comparable to what restaurants and bakeries produce. The new ordinance allows for non-hazardous odors and emissions that don’t cause a nuisance.

The City Council approved the new ordinances 5-1, with Councilwoman Peggy Cole opposed.


Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine.