By Katherine Donlevy
It may take a while, but a craft brewery could be coming to the Town of Marlborough.
Joe Ortgea proposed the idea to the Planning Board at its Dec. 7 meeting, revealing that he and his family were looking to purchase and transform the Bachelor Farm, located at 184 Plattekill Road.
“I [noticed] you guys have a lot of wineries and vineyards and orchards in the area and stuff like that, but no breweries,” Ortega said. “I would like to buy and start a small craft brewery right there in Marlboro.”
According to a Trulia listing, the property has been for sale since April and stretches 50 acres. It has been primarily used as an apple orchard for several decades, a history which Ortega plans to integrate into his business — customers would be afforded the “unique opportunity” to enjoy craft beers and pick their own apples throughout the property, he said.
“I think it’d bring a different crowd of people to that area that enjoy craft brew,” he explained.
Though he planned to continue growing apples, Ortega said he planned to source most of the ingredients, such as wheat, barley and hops, from surrounding farms. He told the board that he would only be required to grow 90 percent of his ingredients under a farm brewery license, but board member Steven Clarke raised concern that that option may not be true.
“If you’re not producing the product, or a significant portion of the inputs in the product, [I don’t know] if you qualify for the farm part of that. You might be more commercial than farm,” Clarke said.
Ortega mentioned that he hopes to one day grow his own hops, but might not have the space for it initially if he continues to grow apples in the existing orchards. Additionally, he admitted that he doesn’t know much about growing hops yet and would rather educate himself before attempting it on his own. For the time being, he looks at sourcing from other farms as an opportunity to collaborate with neighbors and area businesses.
The board seemed supportive of the proposal, but told Ortega that he’d need to do further research before reappearing before the board, particularly on which license would be required. Cindy Lanzetta mentioned he could potentially be seeking a craft brewery license instead, which wouldn’t require the retailer to produce his own products.
“The question becomes, ‘Would you have to produce it yourself?’” Chairperson Chris Band offered.
The board dismissed Ortega and asked that he return with a special use permit application. He mentioned that he has already drawn up a business plan and has planned to dig a well next to the brewery itself, which would be converted from the existing barn, for water usage.
In other board business, James Garofalo updated his colleagues on the work he’s done to update the Planning Board’s Site Plan Checklist, which he hopes to complete in time for the Jan. 4th meeting.
The checklist for future applicants rearranged required information into a more comprehensive and less redundant manner, Garofalo said. He switched items so that the first page contains all the contact information for the involved parties, something that was lacking in the previous list and has caused a problem for project professionals who need to get in contact with one another. The final pages of the six-page document contain the complete checklist for items an application must attain or requirements the application must meet in order to appear before the Planning Board. Garofalo said he rearranged some items so that “traffic stuff was together, environmental stuff was together,” and cut repetitive portions for clarity.
Garofalo noted that at the suggestion of Lanzetta, he added a few materials into the document, including a section which requires all parking spaces to be a minimum of 200 square feet. The requirement is mandated by law, but had not been included in previous checklists and had caused nearly completed applications to be rejected. The addition would address the issue before an application moves too far along.
Garofalo also said he plans to but has yet added code references alongside each requirement so the applicant understands why they are being asked to meet the guidelines.
“I don’t think it’s quite there yet, but i’m hoping that it’s moving in the right direction,” he said.
Brand asked the board to look over the checklist and submit suggestions to Garofalo via email before Jan. 4 in order to reach a conclusion, whether it be approval or discussion. After the Planning Board reaches a consensus, they will “run it up the flagpole and involve the town board.”