EMMAUS BOROUGH COUNCIL
Jeffery Bonner, owner of Cave Brewing Company LLC, spoke before the Emmaus Borough Council at a public hearing Dec. 4 regarding moving his craft brewery to Emmaus.
The building Bonner is looking to rent is a 2,500-square-foot industrial building at 850 Broad St., which Bonner plans on converting into a brewery and taproom. He will be moving from his much smaller location at 1407 Seidersville Road, Bethlehem.
Council members’ main concerns for Bonner involved parking, noise and use of outside tents during the warmer months.
Bonner agreed to have 59 parking spaces he will share with neighboring businesses that run mainly on different operating hours. The only time they will be open simultaneously is during the day when the brewers are working.
In regard to noise, Bonner doesn’t anticipate having loud music. He likes environments where people are able to talk and hear each other.
“My vibe is not to be a sports bar,” Bonner said. He said his vibe is more craft beer focused.
“In this age where folks are hyper polarized, the one thing that I’ve seen are people from two different worlds coming together talking about craft beer and having a great time.”
The building is also in an industrial zone, so it isn’t close to any residential areas.
As of now, Bonner has no real plans of having a tent or seating outside, as the area inside has more than enough space. However, he said he would hate to rule out the idea of eventual outdoor seating.
After a small discussion, council decided to add the condition, that if Bonner decided to move forward with outdoor events or seating, he would first need to come before council to explain his setup and plan of action.
Bonner said he hopes to increase the number of jobs in Emmaus, as well as bring outside folks into town. He said his current location in Bethlehem often sees people traveling from outside the Lehigh Valley.
“One of the nice things about potentially locating here in Emmaus, is there’s two others [Yergey and Funk] that makes it a little bit more of a magnet,” he said. “Potentially you’re bringing other people into the borough, and potentially other businesses could also benefit from folks coming in and purchasing their wares.”
Council unanimously approved the conditional use permit. Some conditions include having 59 parking spaces, following the set hours of operation, no use of storage outside the building unless approved by council and appearing before council if Bonner decides to move forward with outside activity.
The hours of operation will be 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday for brewery operation hours. The tap room will be open 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays, 5 to 11 p.m. Fridays, noon to 11 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.
In related business, before council approved the conditional use permit, Theodore Iobst stood before council and gave a brief presentation on why they could use this permit as an opportunity to punish the property owner who has not been following the regulations of the borough.
Iobst explained to council the property owner of 850 Broad St. “doesn’t care about the subdivision, land development or zoning ordinances of the borough nor does he care about the Lehigh County conservation district regulations.”
Iobst said the property owner received a letter in August 2016 from the conservation district stating he had been moving dirt at his home more than two feet with no approval from them. He does not have a soil or erosion permit and was asked to apply by September of that year. In June of this year he was sent another letter stating the same thing as he has not complied.
The property is in close proximity to Leibert Creek, according to Iobst, which is a high quality water stream, as well as borough water wells impacted by silt and sediment from the runoff of the misplaced dirt. He said every time it rains, additional erosion occurs, so the owner put up jersey barriers to try to prevent the erosion, but all it did was back up the water further.
“My request to you is use this application to get this man to comply, because why should this land owner benefit financially from another tenant when he simply can’t take care of his own house,” Iobst said.
Iobst had two proposals. One would involve the delay of Bonner moving in until the issues were taken care of and he received the correct permits or simply deny the application based on poor behavior by land owner. Iobst said he would hate to see Bonner get denied but something needs to be done.
“First and foremost, everything Iobst said has been true and accurate, and thank you for bringing that to council’s attention,” Borough Manager Shane Pepe said.
Pepe said the property owner appeared before the planning commission around five months ago and was scorned for exactly what Iobst said. Their understanding was he was going through the permitting process and was supposed to come back but hasn’t.
Borough Solicitor Jeffery Dimmich said the courts “tend to look askew at punishing an applicant or third party for something that can be remedied under the law in an appropriate manner such as a fine or zoning violation.”
It was also noted the property owner could simply rent the property out to someone else if Bonner was denied.
Iobst agreed with what council and the solicitor had to say, and said he’s just glad it was once again brought to council’s attention. He said council and code enforcement have done a nice job recently with cleaning up problem properties that create eye sores in Emmaus, and he considers this one of them. His main concern, however, is the threat to the environment the runoff is creating.
Pepe said because this issue has been going on for over a year and has not been resolved, it will be going directly to Dimmich to handle.