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Planning Board Members Say 'I'm In Love' With Proposed Brewery

The Griffin Claw Brewing Company preliminary site plans were approved at Wednesday night's planning board meeting.

Could Birmingham residents be on their way to having a beer garden and specialty brewery in their backyard?

Norman LePage, co-owner of the , is looking to make that happen after .

The brewery would be located at 563 and 575 S. Eton Street, next door to the and down the road from LePage’s Big Rock Chop House and .

Preliminary plans for the brewery were approved Wednesday night though approval of a special land use permit was delayed until the group returns with their final site plans in a few weeks.

Several Planning Board members were excited by the plans, with board member Gillian Lazar congratulating LaPage and the project’s architect, Ron Rea of Ron & Roman LLC. “I congratulate you. I think this would be a wonderful addition to the Rail District,” she said.

Board member Scott Clein agreed. “I’m in love with this idea in principle,” he said.

The project

So what is planned for the Griffin Claw Brewing Company?

  • The project would include a brewery, restaurant, beer garden, tasting room and parking lot — taking up a total of 11,970 square feet of space.
  • LePage described the restaurant as a casual. “When I say casual ... we’re putting in bike racks so that people can ride their bikes down from the neighborhoods and cane come in and perhaps have a bratwurst or a hamburger, and a glass of beer. That’s the type of atmosphere it’s going to be.”
  • The building would be situated on two lots at 563 and 575 S. Eton Street, which is currently taken up by a small office building and vacant space. The office building would be demolished should the project be approved.
  • There would be an entrance to the parking lot, which would be situated behind the building, from nearby Palmer Street.

The concerns

Several community members spoke at the meeting, noting they were concerned with potential noise and light pollution from the restaurant. LePage said they have always been respectful of the neighborhood at the Big Rock Chop House and the brewery would be run with the same mindset.

Board members were also concerned with the state of Palmer Street, particularly if there would be parking lot access onto the road.

“If they are going to have a lot of vehicular access to and from this road to this particular site, the recommendation is that the applicant seek the vacate the road and use it as a private drive,” Planning Director Jana Ecker said, noting that if they don’t do that, a special assessment district might have to be levied, which would require the brewery to pay for part of street improvements.

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