March 23, 2019

Farm brewery OK’d in Homer

After a swift discussion and approval Tuesday night, Homer Town Board Member Barry Warren called for Homer resident Jason Kristof to begin making beer at his approved farm brewery.

Kristof has been waiting for the town to approve the brewery since August, when he first proposed the idea for his new business, off Route 90.

“I was going to jump up and down, but I’ll save the dramatics,” Kristof joked after the town board unanimously approved a local law allowing farm breweries, wineries and distilleries in certain districts with a special permit in the town.

The board was ready to approve the law in December, but had to wait for the county Planning Board to review it. With the law having been discussed for several months there was no discussion among board members before approving it.

Town Attorney Pat Snyder said the law will become effective when it is filed with the state.

Kristof’s proposal is to build a 40-foot by 80-foot farm brewery, which would include a tasting room.

In November, Kristof was issued a special permit to make beer at his property, but he could not sell the beer on site, although he could sell it off site.

He already owns his own hops growing business, which fills the requirement that to be licensed under the state’s farm brewery law, beer must by made primarily with state ingredients: at least 60 percent of the hops and all other ingredients must be grown in the state. By 2024, it’ll go up to 90 percent.

“What we see from this type of business is local ownership, which Homer has really become well known for,” said Robert Haight, executive director of the Cortland County Chamber of Commerce, last month during a public hearing on the then-proposed law. “This whole buy local, eat local, food-to-table movement that’s happening across the nation, and of course across New York state, these businesses play right into it.”

He had added that 10 years ago there were about 100 craft breweries in New York state, and now there’s more than 500. Haight said the breweries are an attraction that draw in people from outside the county.

During the public hearing last month, a Homer resident also had concerns about Kristof’s brewery.

Peter Rogati, who lives near the planned brewery site, has said he is concerned Route 90 could be a traffic hazard due to speeding cars.

Town Board Member Barry Warren assured him the state Department of Transportation would be involved in the process to make sure the entrance and exit to the business is safe.

Rogati also expressed his concern with the extra lighting in the area by the new business.

The new local law states lighting shall not illuminate adjacent residential sites. Also, lighting would be restricted to providing adequate security lighting of the property after the public use of the property has concluded for the day.

The retail and food services activities of the business could not run before 7 a.m. and not after 11 p.m.

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