By Andrew Wroblewski
A local homebrewer’s plan to open Huntington village’s first craft brewery was approved last night, but with one exception.
Mark Heuwetter, 54, of Huntington, an investment consultant who has doubled as a homebrewer for nearly a decade, wants to turn his hobby into a business by opening Six Harbors Brewing Company at 243 New York Ave., the former site of Evergreen Cleaners, next to Burger King.
However, his plan to include a tasting room alongside the brewery will have to wait, at least for now.
Last night the Huntington Zoning Board of Appeals gave Heuwetter approval to operate a retail-only brewery, selling canned beers and growler fills for off-site consumption.
Huntington-based attorney Michael McCarthy, who is representing Heuwetter, asked the board for approval to amend the proposal to only seek approval for the retail use, bringing Six Harbors in line with what newly-opened Harbor Head Brewing Company currently offers in Northport.
McCarthy said the plan is to reapproach the board after further traffic studies are conducted to seek approval for a tasting room. “We want to come back with a more-comprehensive analysis,” he said.
McCarthy said the current approval will help Heuwetter move his plan along and eventually open for business.
Heuwetter said last week that he’s already secured both a federal microbrewery license and tentative approval from the state. With town approval, he’ll be able to move forward with renovations to both the property and existing 2,533-square-foot building, and then get final approval from the state, he said.
Within the building, Heuwetter is calling for a 1,092-square-foot serving area, 422-square-foot brewery area, 379-square-foot conference room, a walk-in cooler, storage area and restrooms, according to a Huntington Planning Board document filed in March.
The parcel where Heuwetter wants to open Six Harbors spans 13,387 square feet.
Heuwetter said, “The timing is right for something like this. There are more people, apartments, in town and it’s becoming a walkable village.”
Approved as a retail use, the brewery is required by town code to have 13 on-site parking spaces in order to meet the one per 200 square feet requirement.
ZBA Chairman Chris Modelewski said that when Heuwetter seeks approval for a tasting room, the board will weigh whether the use is considered retail, or a bar/tavern. The latter use would require Heuwetter to provide one parking space per 15 square feet of the brewery. He would need a parking variance, according to the town’s requirements for bars and taverns.
Modelewski called craft breweries a “magnet” for business.
“They seem to be very well received by the public,” he said. “We are cognizant of the fact that they are little economic engines, and… they do attract a very loyal and consistent following. That’s been the experience that many of us in the land-use community have noted, not just here in the township, but throughout Suffolk County and Long Island.”
Both of the Town of Huntington’s current breweries operate in the Village of Northport. Harbor Head Brewing Company, which opened last month, is located in the Britannia Yachting Center along Fort Salonga Road, and Sand City Brewing Co. has operated both a tasting room and brewery on Main Street in the village since 2015.