Nod Hill Brewery, Ridgefield’s microbrewery, wants to expand its current space at 137 Ethan Allen Highway to add storage and accommodate corporate parties, birthdays, and weddings.
“We want to have a space for private parties to hold 75 to 100 people,” explained Nod Hill co-founder Robert Kaye at the Planning and Zoning Commission’s Dec. 18 meeting. “We’ve had a lot of requests that we can’t take because we can’t close our taproom.”
“Is there a demand for brewpub weddings?” asked Chairwoman Rebecca Mucchetti, after Kaye mentioned them offhand.
“There is now,” Kaye said.
The addition will not add to the building’s footprint.
Kaye plans to add the event room from space currently used by Riverside Fence, which occupies the space to the left of the main entrance to the brewery — he is the property owner of that 32,000-square foot building.
The new addition would take up about 3,000 square feet.
“It’s all within our building,” Kaye said. “The addition would be adjacent to the brewery itself.”
Kaye presented the idea as a pre-submission concept to the commission — a sort of informal chat to gauge whether the commission will support a plan once a developer submits a formal plan.
He also has plans to add an array of solar panels to the brewery, which he hopes to have up in running in the new year.
“I think we’ll be the first fully solar brewery in the state,” he told The Press.
If approved, the event space will be the third expansion of the brewery’s operations in a little over a year of operation.
In July, residents voted to allow the brewery to have food trucks on the premises.
In April, the commission voted in favor of expanding the brewery’s hours and allowing Kaye to add a deck to the building for patrons to use.
“Quite honestly I didn’t expect to come back so quickly,” said Kaye
“You’re doing that well, huh?” said Mucchetti.
Planning and Zoning Director Richard Baldelli said the renovation will need to come before the commission for approval because it’s a “significant change” from the brewery the commission originally approved.
Adding the room is “sort of expanding the umbrella of the activity” that the commission originally approved for the brewery, Baldelli told The Press.
“Initially, when the brewery went in, it didn’t include this event room,” Baldelli said.
“If you’re going to have weddings, if you’re going to do all these different things, we then would have to look at it in that regard,” he said.
Some members of the commission raised parking as a potential issue.
“I think the biggest issue would be the parking,” said Vice Chairman Joe Fossi. “This may come as a surprise to everyone in this room but I’ve been to your brewery… and it was jammed and it was wonderful, and there was no parking issue…”
According to Kaye, the brewery currently has 71 parking spaces. He said the addition of the event room will mean the brewery will have to add more parking.
“I approve of this thing so long as the parking works out,” said Commissioner John Katz.
Mucchetti asked if the expansion will include a kitchen. Kaye said it will not.
“I don’t know how anyone could object to a bigger brewery,” said Fossi.