Over the objections of many concerned parents, the Boulder City Council decided unanimously Tuesday night to allow local breweries, wineries and distilleries to serve food along with their craft beverages.
The new rules mean that such businesses may add on-site restaurant operations, subject to approval through an administrative or use review. The food services will be allowed to operate from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m.
The changes, which the Boulder Planning Board approved in October, come in response to a desire on the city's part to encourage "eating while drinking" to help with responsible alcohol consumption.
"We felt that serving food where alcohol is served is a good thing," said Aaron Brockett, a member of the planning board.
Some breweries and wineries have worked around the codes by having food delivered by catering companies or food trucks. Some, such as Twisted Pine and Boulder Beer, have been allowed to serve food after receiving city approval through the site review process.
But other breweries approached the city and asked for a way to provide food in their tap and tasting rooms, or to add a restaurant at their businesses -- which are quickly becoming tourist destinations.
"The industry has been growing rapidly, and evolving as it grows," said Bev Johnson, a city planner who worked on the code changes.
According to city records, there are now at least five craft breweries, five brewpubs, five wineries and two distilleries in Boulder.
The Boulder Economic Council also supported the changes.
Primary opposition to the revisions have come from parents of children who attend the Boulder Country Day School, at 4820 Nautilus Court in Gunbarrel. They repeated their concerns Tuesday about the Avery Brewing Co.'s plans to expand its operation to include a new brewery, tap house and restaurant across the street from the school.
"It allows a factory-sized restaurant to serve beer on the doorstep of my daughter's elementary school," Eric Shannon said of the new rules. "You want people to come from out of town to drink beer next to an elementary school?"
Adam Avery, owner of the Avery brewery, said police have never been called to his tap rooms and there is broad support for the new rules. He added that he "totally understands" the concerns of parents at the school, but the brewery plans to serve its beer responsibly.
Steve Breezley, director of operations for Avery, said that "food and beer are a good mix."
But Susan Brooker, another parent of a child at the school, disagreed.
"Alcohol is alcohol," she said. "The effects on the human body do not change" based on where it's sold or consumed.
Many parents asked the council to consider imposing a rule that would require a 500-foot separation between schools and breweries. State liquor laws prohibit retailers from selling alcohol within 500 feet of a school, but the rule does not apply to manufacturers or wholesalers.
"If (the 500-foot rule) is not included, you have increased the possibility that our business will suffer," said Mike Shields, head of the school that serves 350 students.
Councilman Ken Wilson agreed and tried to add a 500-foot barrier between the school and the brewery, saying he does think there is an associated safety issue.
But a majority of the council agreed with Councilman Macon Cowles, who said he was not persuaded that the separation would in any way help protect children at the school.
"Our job is to balance two starkly conflicting views of what the outcomes would be," he said.
Peter Weber, an architect for the Avery brewery, presented preliminary drawings of how the proposed expansion of the business would look. He said the company modified its plans to locate the restaurant to the southwest side of the property, as far away from the school as possible.
Depending on how the city measures, he said the restaurant would be up to 577 feet away from the school's property.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Heath Urie at 303-473-1328 or firstname.lastname@example.org.