Neighbors Voice Opposition to Dogfish Brewery Expansion - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Neighbors Voice Opposition to Dogfish Brewery Expansion

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

MILTON, Del. - The Milton Town Council held off on a vote Wednesday night over a proposed expansion for a local brewery.

A public hearing on future plans for Dogfish Head Craft Brewery ended without a decision after roughly four hours. The move will likely give council members time to review public comments.
 
Dogfish is requesting a change in zoning for roughly 40 acres behind its existing brewery off Chesnut Street. The land is currently zoned residential; the request is to rezone the site to light industrial. The company plans to build a roughly 75,000-square-foot warehouse on the parcel to accommodate growth.
 
Some people living in neighboring Cannery Village development voiced opposition to the project. Increased truck traffic is among their concerns.
 
"Our roadways aren't exactly finished and having trucks on them is just going to increase the wear and tear," said neighbor Jonathan Patko.
 
Neighbors also worry a change in zoning means other companies can build on the site if Dogfish were to sell or go out of business in the future.
 
"We don't know what the future is going to bring," said Fred Hageman. "Perhaps the facility will be too small for them. Perhaps they'll want to sell it to other businesses."
 
Dogfish Head is owned by relatives of WBOC-TV owner Thomas Draper.
 
Dogfish Chief Operating Officer Nick Benz said the company has no plans to leave. He said the beer maker will run out of space for most of its current operations in two years or less.
 
"This is our home. We want to be proud of it. And we want our community to be proud of it," said Benz.
 
The company is currently leasing a 20,000-square-foot warehouse in Milford for storage. Benz said the facility is not ideal because of its low ceiling and lack of air conditioning. Dogfish has been unable to find existing warehouse space to fit its needs.
 
The company plans to invest nearly $50 million at the new location over the next three years, Benz said.
 
Benz said the expansion would reduce traffic in town. The new site would have a private road connecting to Cave Neck Road specifically for commercial use.
 
Some homeowners in Cannery Village are upset developer Chesnut Properties sold the land to Dogfish in the first place. Initial plans called for more than 160 homes to be built on the parcel. Without the new homes, existing homeowners could have to pay higher fees to cover the development's amenities such as a new club house.
 
Hageman said many people moved to the development for its quiet and relaxing appeal. Instead, he said homeowners have experienced one disappointment after another.
 
Benz understands the frustration but said Dogfish has no control over internal issues with the developer.
 
"This happens to be the only public forum people have to express their opinion so our process is caught up with their issues," Benz said.
 
The zoning proposal requires approval from the town council. The council will likely discuss the issue again at its Jan. 9 meeting.
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