×

Claremont OKs New Brewery



Valley News Correspondent
Monday, July 23, 2018

Claremont — The city’s Planning Board on Monday approved a required “administrative waiver” to allow a small brewery to operate in West Claremont.

Gilford, N.H., resident Eric Dean Rouleau, who bought the property at 354 Plains Road in February as well as the abutting parcel at 350 Plains Road, said his “nano-brewery” also will have a tasting room inside a 3,100-square-foot, one-story wood frame building. The brewery, which will be next to the former Coy Paper plant, will also have outdoor seating, he said.

The waiver switches the approved use for the warehouse from machine manufacturing to beer manufacturing.

The board, with the guidance of City Planner Mike McCrory, discussed limiting the waiver solely to the proposed location, as the decision will allow Rouleau to proceed with his brewery without a site plan review.

Rouleau can use part of 350 Plains Road for parking but he cannot expand into the brick building on that parcel, which sits right on the river and was part of the Coy Paper complex. Rouleau said his intent is to “mothball” 350 Plains Road and he only bought it for the parking.

His company, called Sugar River Brewing, will have just five barrels capable of producing 31 gallons of beer. The frequency of the production cycle will vary.

Food will be served, which Rouleau said is a requirement under federal law when there is a tasting room, but he will not be a brew pub or restaurant. He anticipates bringing in food from local vendors such as a bakery or North Country Smokehouse.

Planning Board member Charlene Lovett, who is also Claremont’s mayor, suggested a site plan visit before approval of the waiver. Lovett said she wanted to be sure it was clear what the proposed operation would look like and it did not begin slowly expanding to something beyond what Rouleau presented.

“This has potential for growth and I would like to avoid what happened at the (Claremont) speedway,” Lovett said.

However, when the motion to approve the waiver limited the brewery to one building, Lovett was satisfied and voted for the waiver.

Nearby property owners Ed Corley and Lori Fletcher said they did not oppose the brewery but wanted assurances that lighting, noise, traffic and growth would not affect their lifestyle.

Rouleau said he has not decided on hours of operation but mentioned closing no later than 9 p.m. and possibly opening at 11 a.m. on weekends.

He also discussed signage and use of a parking lot across Plains Road, which he has an easement for but does not plan to use. Outdoor lighting will be on a timer.

Rouleau did not give an estimate as to when he thinks the brewery would begin operation.

Board members said they supported the plans for a property which has not been used for years.

“I will support the waiver because he is investing in a property that has been vacant,” board member Dave Putnam said.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.