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City Council to rule on Precarious Beer arcade request, accessibility guidelines

rarriaza@vagazette.com

Following recommendations for approval from the city’s Planning Commission, City Council will consider two requests from upcoming downtown brewery Precarious Beer Project at its next regular meeting on Oct. 11.

Last month, Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend the approval of a zoning amendment and special-use permit that would allow the proposed Precarious Beer Project microbrewery to operate arcade and pinball machines.

The microbrewery, slated to open in summer 2019, will be in the Henry Street Shops on the corner of Francis and South Henry streets, and will operate in the city’s B-1 downtown business district. That zoning district allows restaurants by right and micro-breweries with a special use permit, but does not mention amusement arcades.

Precarious Beer, LLC representatives will be at the meeting petitioning for a change to be made to B-1 district zoning regulations to allow arcades with a special-use permit.

An “amusement arcade,” as defined in the city code, is any place of business containing more than two amusement devices, which include video game machines, pinball machines, air hockey games and mechanical grab machines.

“This is going to be an arcade component where we’re looking at anywhere between a dozen games to up to 20 games depending on the amount of space that we have inside,” said Precarious Beer co-owner Andrew Voss at a Planning Commission hearing last month. “It provides an entertainment value to it without being a destination arcade, it’s just one additional step in creating a true American beer hall feel.”

The zoning change, if approved, would then be followed by a request for a special-use permit to operate a micro-brewery with an amusement arcade containing approximately 20 games in that zoning district.

Planning Commission recommended the approval of both requests on the condition that the special-use permit issued to Precarious Beer, LLC not be transferable to other tenants or businesses, that the number of arcade machines in the brewery be capped at 25 and that a final site plan be submitted and approved for the brewery’s planned outdoor patio expansion.

Ensuring accessibility

Council is also expected to consider revisions to the city’s zoning ordinance to reflect a new bill passed in the most recent General Assembly session.

House Bill 796 requires the zoning ordinance of all Virginia localities to allow for requests from disabled residents asking to make reasonable modifications to their homes in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and all state and federal laws.

In the case of Williamsburg, the bill requires that the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals allow people with disabilities to make modifications to their homes to allow for increased accessibility, which would be subject to expiration when no longer needed.

At the Planning Commission meeting last month, city attorney Christina Shelton said that the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals already has the power to grant these modifications, but that the new bill requires that the requests be granted.

“If someone needs to put a disability access ramp on their house, it’s a hardship, and this would essentially require them to grant it, but then after that use is no longer needed, it would have to come off the house,” Shelton said.

Meeting details

Where: City Council Chambers, Stryker Center, 412 N. Boundary St.

When: 2 p.m. Oct. 11

Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.

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