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Aberdeen seeks to allow breweries, distilleries in certain areas of the city; potential brewer sets sights on new commercial center

Contact Reporterebutler@theaegis.com

George Handlin and Ben Meyer are hoping to combine their services and open a brewery and restaurant in Aberdeen. But before they can, the city of Aberdeen has to amend its zoning code to allow such operations.

The Aberdeen City Council is considering an amendment to its development code to allow breweries, microbreweries, distilleries and wineries in certain areas of the city and held a public hearing on the ordinance during its meeting Monday night. The ordinance could be voted on at the council’s next meeting, May 6.

Handlin and Meyer spoke in favor of the ordinance during the public hearing.

“I own a restaurant, he brews beer,” Meyer, of Bel Air, said after the meeting. Handlin, of Fallston, is a home beer brewer.

The city amended its zoning code about a year ago to add microbreweries and brew pubs, Director of Planning and Community Development Phyllis Grover said.

“But we didn’t realize there was such a demand for breweries and distilleries,” Grover said. “There is probably more of a demand for the breweries and distilleries.”

The city had been approached by several people interested in opening such an establishment in the city, but the development code has to be amended before that can happen, Grover said.

Such businesses would be permitted uses in essentially the business districts, zoning B2 and B3, M1 and M2, integrated business district and transit-oriented development district, according to the ordinance.

Handlin said he would like to open a brewery and restaurant at the new Stadium Town Center, which is under construction west of Interstate 95 at the intersection of Route 22.

Handlin has eight taps at his home in Fallston, where he brews 10 gallons at a time.

“I drink it, or give it all away,” Handlin said.

Handlin and Meyer, who owns Vagabond Sandwich Company in Bel Air, know each other from Meyer’s days working at Italian Sensation in Fallston, Meyer said.

“He came to me recently asking if I would bring food to the brewery,” he said.

Handlin said he’s excited to be able to open a brewery in Aberdeen.

“I’ve been looking around different places for a long time,” he said. “There’s been a lot of growth in Aberdeen and breweries bring a lot of business and tourism and tax revenue to a community.”

Having food brings a different vibe to a bar, Meyer said. Among the complaints from people opposed to breweries is that they’re simply another drinking establishment.

“Looking around, they become meeting hubs in the community,” he said. “They’re family and dog friendly, places people go and it really adds a nice element.”

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