DENHAM SPRINGS - In February of this year, Ron and Brett Dunham approached the city in hopes of opening a microbrewery.
"We just want to brew beer," Ron Dunham said several months ago, "but people get confused when they hear the word 'brewery'."
That confusion led to questions from city council member Robert Poole as to the opinion of Chief of Police Shannon Womack. Womack neither endorsed or fought the idea, but said his main concern was safety inside the city limits.
"Mine as well," echoed councilman Jeff Wesley at the meeting, who is a former city police chief.
Ron Dunham assured the council that the brewery was meant for social drinks and would even serve food, it was not intended to be a place where people came to 'get drunk.'
Despite their intentions, a city ordinance required that an establishment operate at a food-to-alcohol ratio of 60-40, which the microbrewery could not meet. After deciding not to immediately extend a special use permit to Le Chien - the name of the brewery, french for 'The Dog' - the council voted 5-0 to authorize city attorney Stephanie Hulett to research and propose changes to the current ordinance.
At the time, Dunham said the Hammond City Council was in a similar situation but gave a microbrewery what he called an “expanded conditional permit.” Among its stipulations were a 12 percent alcohol cap on beers and the business could not be sold to another party, he said.
Now, three months later, planning & zoning will have their first crack at the microbrewery on Monday the 13th. The board will consider their location, and a public hearing will occur in which citizens can make comments.
Should some sort of approval be given, it will go before the city council Tuesday night with a chance for a public hearing in June.
Planning & Zoning meets at 5 p.m. at City Hall on Monday.