Roadhouse Brewing served by council after looking to get funkier

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Roadhouse Brewing was back before the town council last Monday for another bite of the apple. After being granted a microbrewery license in 2017 to pour drafts at a tasting room connected with their Gregory Lane production facility, representatives were back to ask for more.

Get Funky LLC attorney Amberley Baker called the conditions of the license “unreasonable in scope and reach beyond the regulation of the sale and distribution of alcohol.” Town planners and legal advisors agreed the issue lies somewhere between the purview of liquor license or planning/zoning concerns.

“Right now it is a licensing process. The tasting room is incidental to the brewery,” said principal planner Paul Anthony.

Town attorney Lea Colasuonno agreed, pointing out things like hours of operation (which Get Funky wanted to expand) and serving of food (which Get Funky wanted to expand) were very much liquor license concerns.

The brewery also wanted to be able to hire more employees, even though town officials said they could not when they granted the license.

But navigating new ground is tricky and Jackson has never had a microbrewery liquor license with an attached taproom or tasting room. When the council put five restrictions on the issuance of the license in 2017, Roadhouse Brewing got in trouble almost immediately after numerous complaints they were throwing special event parties and having trouble parking all their “tasters.”

Colby Cox, part-owner with Gavin Fine, of Get Funky LLC dba Roadhouse Brewing explains his business’ position. (TOJ)

Get Funky got its act together and managed to score a renewal of that liquor license in April 2019, but part-owner Colby Cox was before the council at its regular meeting in August to ask some conditions be lifted or modified.

Neighbors, however, are split on just how enjoyable it has been to live next to the brewery. Jeff Hinman, owner of Video Vision across the street, said his business has been negatively affected almost daily by parking and truck deliveries to the brewery.

“I can’t understand why we are going through this exercise again…I don’t know that there has ever been a clearer case of ‘it’s easier to ask forgivingness than it is to ask permission’ in this town’s history. This organization clearly planned to ignore it’s alleged use and completely disregard the rules,” Hinman wrote the council upon hearing Get Funky would be asking for more leeway in operating. “It is not the duty of the neighborhood, the town, or anyone else to facilitate anyone’s business simply for the sake of growth at the expense of everyone else around them.”

Norris and Layne Brown commented, “How the city ever gave a permit for this business to exist with no parking, no employee housing, and no snow storage area is beyond us. The fact that Get Funky is asking for stipulations the city put on them to be removed is not realistic.”

A letter from the Scott’s—Larry and Beverly—also complained of traffic and associated zoning violations by the brewery.

The only neighbor to speak on behalf of the brewery was the school district who said it had no problem with Roadhouse. “They have proven to be great neighbors,” Assistant Superintendent of TCSD#1 wrote in a letter to the town.

Planner Anthony told the council that things have gotten better since the early trouble but there were still noise complaints, parking issues, and reports the tasting room was having special events—which they are not allowed to do under the license conditions.

For the council’s part, they mostly wondered why this was a pressing issue with Karns Meadow looming later that meeting, downtown paid parking program to figure out, Flat Creek water quality issues, two housing projects in the lurch, and other more urgent matters.

Councilman Jim Stanford ran through a laundry list of unfinished business he wanted to see get done before he was ready to address the desires of Get Funky.

Arne Jorgensen alluded to an annual review of the liquor license process due to take place in January/February 2020. He felt things should be better discussed then.

The council was not asked to make a decision via motion but did assure Cox and Baker of Get Funky they would direct staff to make sure special concerns of a microbrewery with a tasting room were addressed, and a way forward would be identified after all stakeholders (neighbors) were able to get in the same room and work it out.

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