Expand Zoning to Save Muddy River Brewery
Expand Zoning to Save Muddy River Brewery
Sidney, NY residents, business owners, and property owners, and friends, please sign our petition asking the Town Board to expand commercial zoning to save Muddy River Farm Brewery! Sidney cannot afford to lose another business that gives the local population a safe place to get together with family and friends. We're the 1st brewery in Delaware County and hope to stay and brew along with the other 500+ breweries across this great state of New York for years to come!
Muddy River Hops Co. was established in 2012 to produce hops in support of a new state initiative that encourages the growth of the craft beer industry and agricultural opportunities statewide. As hop farmers, we quickly learned that the success of our small ag business required the processing of value-added products and a focus on Agri-tourism.
So, in 2016, we applied for and received a grant through Delaware County Economic Development to build a hop processing facility and some pilot brewing equipment. We obtained a permit from the Town of Sidney to expand our operation.
At this time, the Town of Sidney hired a new code enforcer. We met on multiple occasions, and we were supported and advised. This new official also knew of our plans to open a brewery and even oversaw our septic installation and taproom construction. Not once did the code enforcer state that we were exceeding Sidney’s zoning laws or that our business plan and building were unacceptable. Right before we submitted our finalized brewing application to the state, the code enforcer was fired. Since a Certificate of Occupancy was needed, we were directed to the county’s code enforcer who, in full circle, was aware of our plans and granted us a certificate.
We received our State Liquor Authority (SLA) Farm Brewery License in the Spring of 2018 and opened our doors to the public in May of the same year. By then, Sidney had hired another code enforcer. The new Code Enforcer never once stopped by our brewery to discuss business or try to contact us until he served a Cease and Desist Order one month after opening, which was directed at both our brewery and farm operation.
The Cease and Desist Order failed to explain our faults and did not include any action or suggestions to remedy the concerns. It vaguely claimed that there were noise complaints (which we never received) and that our business did not belong in a Residential / Agriculture Zone.
Our only choice was to fight the lack of due process and vague accusations by filing for an appeal. Last month, after a year of legal fees and hassle, our appeal was denied, which means Muddy River Farm Brewery must close its doors as of July 24 unless the zoning changes. The Appeals Board’s denial states that although we’re a farm and process hops for the brewing market, Muddy River exceeds their definition of a farm by producing and serving alcohol. Their definition, written into zoning law in 1989, describes in detail a very narrow description of a farm and is completely out-of-date in relation to today’s agricultural business practices.
At this point, we’re asking that the Town of Sidney extend their Commercial Zoning to include our popular local business. We are happy to work with our town officials and believe their vision can include Muddy River, but your voice matters!!!! The current Commercial Zoning boundary is approximately 100’ from our property line.
We want to continue to share our beautiful space with our local community and we want to keep serving folks visiting from over 25 states – vacationers, craft beer enthusiasts, paddlers, and people just passing through. We want to retain jobs for our six (awesome) employees and we want our investment in state and local agricultural businesses to continue and grow. 90% of our ingredients used to brew our beer are grown in NY State and we work with many businesses and organizations throughout Delaware, Broome, Chenango, Schoharie, and Otsego Counties including:
- Awestruck Ciders
- Bavaria Restaurant
- Skytop Springs Fish Farm
- Andrew P. Hinkley Insurance
- Ty’s Taco-Ria
- Stamford Smokehouse
- Quarter Moon Café
- Good Cheap Foods
- O’Neill’s Shire Pub
- Franklin Stage Company
- Harpersfield Cheese
- Red Shed Brewery
- Council Rock Brewery
- B-Side Ballroom
- The Autumn Cafe
- Eagle Landing Hops
- Catskill Hops
- Brandow’s Hops
- Northern Eagle Beverage
- Binghamton Brewery
Please sign our petition and ask the Sidney Town Board to update the zoning to protect Muddy River Farm Brewery.