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Medina wants to welcome wineries, breweries in downtown

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 March 2014 at 12:00 am

File photo by Tom Rivers – Schwenk’s Wine Cellars in Kent pours wine during the Wine About Winter event on Feb. 1, which sold out with 750 participants. Schwenk’s was in the basement of the Bent’s Opera House.

MEDINA – They draw lots of people and breathe new life into large old buildings. Wineries and microbreweries have been “wildly successful” in other Western New York communities, said Martin Busch, Medina’s code enforcement officer.

He is part of a village government that is working to tweak the zoning in the downtown and in the business districts to state that wineries and microbreweries are allowed uses.

The current village code doesn’t specify wineries and breweries are allowed. That doesn’t mean they are prohibited in Medina, but the businesses would have an unpredictable path if they tried to pursue that type of project in the village. They would need approval from the Medina Zoning Board of Appeals.

The current language in the code doesn’t give the village controls over the businesses, either. Medina wants to welcome the business ventures, while also establishing standards for noise, odor, and storage and disposal of waste products.

Busch said “more than one” business is interesting in Medina for a winery or brewery. The community is ideally located in the middle of the expanded Niagara Wine Trail, which now runs from near Niagara Falls to the west side of Rochester.

The wineries and breweries have been successful in former cold storages and other large buildings in Western New York, Busch said. He visited the Woodcock Brothers Brewing Company in Wilson, which opened in May in a former cold storage. That brewery is part of a restaurant and has attracted customers to that community.

He sees a winery and brewery feeding other nearby businesses in Medina, including agriculture that would provide hops and grapes to make the product. The businesses could also help the village by using water and sewer services, Busch said.

The Village Planning Board will consider a zoning revision. It won’t be a radical change. It may just be an insertion of a paragraph about breweries and wineries in the business district.

Any changes would require a public hearing through the Village Board. The changes could be approved as soon as in May or June.

“We’re trying to get ahead of the game if someone applies,” said Planning Board member Todd Bensley.