View Full Version : AZ Zoning for Distribution

07-24-2007, 01:53 PM

I have a quick question. I was wondering what type of zoning is needed for a production brewery in Arizona.

And if we do decide to have a small tasting bar, does that change the zoning requirements?


07-24-2007, 03:00 PM
I believe it'll depend on the city's zoning rules rather than being regulated through a state agency. Typically, the zoning code for a lot of cities are adopted from a uniform code, so they'll look quite similar. In California, most production breweries are located in areas zoned Industrial / R&D. Perhaps with a tasting room, there is a possibility you could go into a Commercially zoned area, especially if food is offered. You'd then be more of a brewpub than a production brewery.

Stick to the proper zoning before signing a lease, as variances are very tough to come by and are expensive as well. Rent for industrial properties are usually much less expensive than commercial, and you're more likely to find places with high ceilings, large cargo doors, and have the ability to use a forklift. PM me if you have any questions-- I'm starting up a small brewery right now and think I've learned a lot in the process.

07-24-2007, 03:31 PM
Going through the same thing here too. Contact your city planning department. They will be able to help answer your questions. This is a good chance to start a dialog with your municipality. Be positive, patient, and kind...it will go a long way down the road. Ask them where the best zoning is for your proposed project. I did and they have been very positive, helpful, and easy to work with so far. In my case, the manufacturing park zone limits your retail/pub to 50 seats. Makes sense, they are trying to keep restaurants/pubs in commercial zones and production facilities in manufacturing zones. Not a problem anyway because I only wanted a 50 seat taproom. A brewery with a taproom will most likely be considered a brewpub because you are serving food and beer.

Best of luck,

07-25-2007, 11:26 AM
The outcome of this post is the positive move made by the city. What should be picked up from the story is "DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH"...

We applied for a special use permit in March of 2003. We were buying a 2 acre parcel in the "City developed industrial park". The use permit was drafted by the City Planning Dept., Approved unanimously by the Planning Commission after the public hearing, then adopted/ratified by the City council via Resolution at the Regular Meeting of the City Council. Our use read:

"A 3,200 square foot manufacturing facilty to be used as a microbrewery, office space, a public tasting room/beer garden.".

We purchased the property, built the 3,200 square foot building, commissioned a 20 bbl x 40 bbl brewery, bottling line, etc and began production. We opened the public tasting room/beer garden in March of 2007. We began selling 6-packs, kegs for off-sale, and providing free 1 oz tasters as well as the sale of pints for on-sale consumption in the tasting room/beer garden.

June 1, 2007 we received a letter from the City Planning Department that included a cease/desist order because the zoning code for the industrial park does not allow "Uses open to the general public" and "No retail". They sited the specific code from the zoning code. The only way to fix the problem was to rezone, which means complete the rezone application and pay another $7,500.00 in fees.

Long story short we went to the City Council in complete disgust of the cease order... After 2.5 hours of debate, and becoming a local celebrity from being on every news channel twice a day and on the front page of the two local news papers, the City Council approved my request to rezone the industrial park and waived all of the fees that we would be required to pay to complete the rezoning and use permit amendments. I pushed them to make the code fit the use permit and won.

The point of the story is that the same planning department, that drafted our use permit for a "Public tasting room/beer garden" are the same people that came back and said "The public is not supposed to be there" and "The industrial park is not zoned for retail".

So, how did the word "Public" end up in my use permit????? The good news is that wholesale sales are skyrocketing in our local area because of the media attention <- can't pay for press like this... The City vs. the Little Guy!

Anyhow, this is probably and isolated incident and I am not trying to be a pessimist. I am just suggesting that you are very thorough and diligent in your dealings with public entities because they have a lot of "No fault" legal stuff on their side. They seem to go to the end of the earth to make it look like it is your fault or at least it is not there fault.

In any use permit or documents that require "Your intent" to be disclosed I would suggest full disclosure down to the very, very, smalled detail.

Public tasting room/beer garden will be back open the first week of Oct 2007. Just met with the city yesterday to go over the zoning changes/amendements... Now we have to go through the Enviro process, state requirement, planning commission, and finally City Council.

Any comments, tips, experience you have on this topic, please send me a note or post a comment, because we are still considering more action.

Thank you,
North Star Craft Brewery

07-25-2007, 04:23 PM
I have heard similar experiences where basically the city was ok with the project but then later had issues. Seems like there is no way to predict what will happen until it happens. The main point I am trying to make is to start the lines of communication early. While this is no safe bet that you won't have issues, maybe it will minimize them!


07-25-2007, 08:23 PM
Wow, that sounds like quite an ordeal. I'm crossing my fingers right now so hard they are just about to bleed! Good luck on your ongoing struggle!

08-06-2007, 11:57 AM

I have a quick question. I was wondering what type of zoning is needed for a production brewery in Arizona.

And if we do decide to have a small tasting bar, does that change the zoning requirements?


It depends on the city but most will allow a brewery in an industrial or commercial zone. The tasting bar might need a variance in an industrial zone and you would need a space with more available parking too.