FRONT ROYAL – Backroom Brewery can now host large events as the Board of Supervisors at its Tuesday meeting granted the brewery a conditional use permit allowing it to hold gatherings with 100-plus people.
Billie Clifton, Backroom Brewery’s owner, stated in a letter to the Planning Commission that she wants to use the brewery’s 8,000-square-foot facility for events such as weddings, birthday parties, reunions and more.
“This activity will create an influx of visitors to Warren County thereby increasing tax revenue through use of our facility and sale of our craft beer. It will also create revenue for surrounding hotels, restaurants and other businesses resulting in additional tax revenue from these local businesses,” she stated.
During a public hearing, Clifton said the county has repeatedly been supportive of her ventures, which is appreciated.
“I’m proud of what we’ve done over the years and look forward to many more years of making Warren County proud of us and raising revenue for Warren County,” she said.
David Downes, the founder of the Virginia Beer Museum, spoke in favor of the conditional use permit and noted the county’s consistency “in repeatedly recognizing the importance of this new industry.”
He noted the county’s support of Clifton contrasts his struggle with the Town Council regarding the use of his lot behind the Virginia Beer Museum.
“Please, please do not follow the conduct, the actions of the Town Council,” he said.
Downes noted the historical importance of breweries and taverns, which is where citizens gathered in the 1770s to form the U.S. Marine Corps, where the American revolution was birthed and where the Boston tea party was organized.
“And our very existence in Warren County began in 1836 at Lane’s Ordinance, also known as Lane’s Tavern. That’s where people came together, granted it was frequently over a beer but that’s how we discussed ideas,” Downes said.
He added that sometimes such establishments are dismissed “with pejorative terms such as a beer joint.”
“That is clearly not the case and certainly short changes the importance that these breweries, taverns provide our community, our commonwealth, our nation,” he said.
Downes added that craft breweries have positively impacted Virginia’s economy with $1.4 billion.
Supervisors Chairman Dan Murray said that Clifton is “a visionary” and was the county’s first citizen who opened a microbrewery.
“Not many people can live their dream. She’s living her dream and we need to support her, every one of us. We should look at her as a leader because she has done more than many, many people and she gives from her heart to the community,” Murray said.
Backroom Brewery’s conditional use permit was one of six matters subject to a public hearing Tuesday.
After a public hearing, the supervisors unanimously approved the rezoning of about 20 acres just north of the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional jail from agricultural to industrial.
The rezoning request came from EQUUS Capital Partners, a private equity firm planning to build a 324,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center.
Construction on the facility, which is estimated to bring 50-100 jobs, will take 12-14 months after work begins in spring 2020.
For that same parcel of land, the supervisors approved a conditional use permit, which is necessary for any building in the area that is over 50,000-square-feet.
After public hearings, the supervisors also approved:
• An amendment to the Warren County Code allowing microbreweries to host large events by obtaining conditional use permits.
• The Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority’s request to rezone about 2 acres off Reliance Road from residential to commercial.
• An amendment to Warren County’s code permitting the use of landscaping and horticulture services within the county’s industrial zoning district.