County commissioners on Thursday unanimously approved the first reading of a zoning text amendment to clear the way for a craft distillery inside the old Minden mill.
The change allows for the processing and production of craft foods or alcohol beverages, including craft distilleries or brew pubs, which can distribute products to customers on-site or to retailers and wholesalers.
Under the proposed rules, only distilleries of less than 10,000 square feet would be allowed in the neighborhood commercial zoning. Larger distilleries may be sited in general and tourist commercial, and light or service industrial districts, and must include a commercial use if in a commercial zone.
A second reading of the amendment is scheduled March 6. Once in place, it will allow the county to process applications under a new Nevada law.
Before the law passed in 2013, Nevada permitted distilleries to produce spirits under a federal license, but the distillery had to sell its product through a distributor, and therefore could not serve or sell it directly to consumers.
Nevada has a three-tier system of regulating alcohol producers that dates back to Prohibition. The system is designed to prevent producers from having a financial interest in retailers.
The new law allows craft distilleries to sell their products while preserving the system. Under the law, a craft distillery may sell up to two 750-milliliter bottles per person per month. Samples of no more than 2 ounces per person per day may be served by the distillery. Total in-state production is limited to 10,000 cases at all craft distilleries operated by a single owner.
In recommending the amendment, planner Dirk Goering said in a report to the board, the proposed change will allow for the expansion of various uses within the existing master-planned commercial or industrial areas already identified in the county’s adopted plan.
Goering said the proposed amendment aims to increase economic opportunities within the county and ensure compatibility between existing and proposed land uses.
He said the amendment was initiated, in part, because of the potential benefit to Douglas County’s economy by allowing additional land uses in appropriate zoning districts that will benefit and revitalize existing commercial and industrial land uses within the county.
Businessman Christopher Bently, who is developing Nevada Heritage craft distillery at the site of the old Minden mill, told the board his objective was to maintain the integrity of downtown Minden, and “give the community something beautiful to look at.”
He also expressed his desire to add the V&T Railroad to the project.
“Let’s bring the V&T Railroad back home,” Bently said.
The first Virginia & Truckee Railroad train into the Minden station arrived June 12, 1906, according to Wynne Maule’s history of Minden.
By the late 1920s, trucks began taking away much of the traffic from the train, but the V&T operated until 1950.