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Del Mar to soon have its first brewery

Despite an appeal from a council member, the Del Mar City Council on Jan. 19 declined to schedule a de novo public hearing and upheld the Design Review Board’s conditional approval of Vigilante Brewing Company along the banks of the San Dieguito Lagoon.

The beer manufacturing facility, tasting room and restaurant will be located at 2201 San Dieguito Drive, the former site of bread basket manufacturer Eucalyptus Stoneware.

The Design Review Board on Nov. 18 conditionally approved an administrative design review permit for tenant improvements to an existing commercial building and outdoor patio at the project site. As a resident of Del Mar, Councilman Al Corti appealed the decision, citing concerns with noise and other impacts, and claiming project inaccuracies and processing errors. Corti has property within 300 feet of the project site.

“I’m OK with the use; I’m OK with it across the street from my house,” said Corti, who is currently constructing a home on Heather Lane. “I just think that there should be restrictions in place to protect the community, and I don’t think they occurred.”

Owned by the McHugh Family Trust, the nearly 48,000-square-foot lot on San Dieguito Drive features a large commercial building with a floor area of approximately 15,510 square feet. The building houses several daytime tenants, including a private office used by the property owner, Del Mar Automotive, Del Mar Blueprint, Co’s Traffic Control, Rose Towing and RiverPath Chiropractic, which is currently under construction.

Vigilante Brewing recently leased space for a 1,437 square-foot beer manufacturing facility, 900 square-foot beer tasting room and 2,471 square-foot restaurant with 589 square-foot kitchen. The building also features a 1,041 square-foot covered outdoor patio.

As part of the applicant’s proposal, 101 square feet of the outdoor patio will be used for the tasting room before 6 p.m. on weekdays. However, after 6 p.m. on weekdays and all-day on the weekends, the restaurant will use the full patio, indoor dining area and kitchen.

The site includes 47 parking spaces, of which 34 satisfy the off-street parking requirements for existing tenants. Vigilante Brewing will use the remaining 13 spaces available on site, in addition to the 24 shared use spaces authorized by the Planning Commission for a total of 37 spaces.

“The DRB has done an amazing job with showing how the rules and regulations have been written to protect the city and the community,” said the applicant, Del Mar resident Charles Koll. “I hold the community and the DRB at the highest regards. That is my highest priority because these are the people that I need to appease — my community and the DRB.”

With concerns about the project, Corti asked that it be opened to the citizens’ participation program — a program created to gather community input on development proposals.

However, two council members had to agree to call a public hearing, and only Deputy Mayor Terry Sinnott supported the idea.

“I’m not critical of staff as to how they did this; I’m not critical of the DRB as to how they handled the process,” Corti said. “I just don’t think that the community, specifically me as a neighbor, got a fair shot in reviewing this.”

Koll plans to make improvements to the site, including the addition of a new wheelchair lift near the building entrance, outdoor patio lights and entry wall lights, two fire pits along the west edge of the outdoor patio, three roof-mounted exhaust fans, replacement windows, a new transformer and air conditioning unit, and the relocation of a portion of the chain-link fence on the east side of the Rose Towing storage yard. The project will also include an indoor stage and several interior improvements, which are exempt from design review.

As required per the conditions of the Design Review Board’s approval, Koll submitted an operations plan, outlining operational hours and noise mitigation measures. An appointed subcommittee of the Design Review Board reviewed and approved the plan on Dec. 23.

According to the plan, the tasting room will be open from noon to 6 p.m. on weekdays. The restaurant and bar will be open from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on weekends.

No exterior speakers or televisions will be installed on the outdoor patio. Additionally, only acoustic music, no amplified music, will be allowed on the interior stage at Vigilante Brewing.

Koll also submitted a lighting plan, which the subcommittee found incomplete. It is currently being revised.

“This is just the kind of project that the city should embrace,” said resident Julie Korsmeyer, who was among several speakers in support of the project. “This is a person that’s starting a business in the town where he grew up, and it’s in the neighborhood where he grew up, so he has an interest in making this work and making it compatible with the neighborhood.”

Koll’s brother, Richard Koll, said Vigilante Brewing would be an asset to the community.

“As a young professional, when I think about places to go, I don’t think about coming to Del Mar. That worries me, because this is my home,” he said. “That [Vigilante Brewing] is what Del Mar needs.”