By JULIA LEATHERWOOD/For the County Star
SAVOY — The village board is scheduled next week to vote on a special-use permit for a "nanobrewery." Before the Wednesday meeting, the board will hold a public hearing on the issue at 7 p.m.
Earlier this week, the Savoy Planning Commission recommended Triptych Brewery LLC be granted a special-use permit to operate the craft-beer operation at 1703 Woodfield Drive in a building it would share with Paco Office Equipment.
The public hearing drew a crowd, with area residents and business owners voicing their opinions on the planned location at 1703 Woodfield Drive.
Three partners — Anthony Benjamin, Jason Bartell and Joshi Fullop — plan to open Triptych Brewery, which would include a craft beer nanobrewery, as well as a tasting room at the Savoy location.
Beer would be brewed on site, and customers could consume pints and sample sizes on the premises. Sixty-four ounce growlers could be purchased to be consumed off the premises. Triptych would also distribute its beer to area restaurants and bars.
At last Monday's hearing, some business owners and residents objected to the project.
Dr. Joe Snell and his wife, Carla, presented the planning commission a petition with 12 signatures from businesses on Woodfield Drive protesting the special-use permit.
Snell owns two properties on Woodfield Drive, including Snell Chiropractic, which he has operated for 22 years. Snell commented that Woodfield Drive is a professional area and any establishment associated with alcohol would not be a good fit for a professional area.
Snell also commented that the village should not give more credence to a lessee over long-time, tax-paying property owners.
Namsoo Hyong, owner of HMD Academy, also voiced concerns about the brewery being next door to his Tae Kwon Do school. HMD Academy has been on Woodfield Drive since 1990. Hyong stated that his academy sees 800 visitors each week, mostly children, and is worried about their safety in the parking lot, which is adjoined to the parking lot that would be used by Triptych.
Residents who live nearby the Woodfield Drive location were concerned with the noise and traffic the potential business may bring, as well as how it would affect their property values.
Many who spoke in support of Triptych were craft beer drinkers and home brewers themselves.
Many commented that they had traveled to other breweries and expected people would travel to visit Triptych, as well as support other local businesses. One resident stated it would "bring a different spark to the community."
Triptych owner Anthony Benjamin described the tasting room as an embassy, where people can learn about craft beer and the brewing process. He described the atmosphere as "craft beer school" and remarked that people "could probably mistake this as a library."
Benjamin distinguished a tasting room from a bar. A tasting room needs to be well-lighted with low background noise so patrons can see and discuss the beer, he explained. He pointed out that there is no other tasting room in the Champaign-Urbana area, so there is nothing to compare it with. Benjamin also remarked that he is interested in selling his beer in bars, not competing with them.
The planning commission placed conditions on its recommendation:
— The amount of beer produced must not exceed 2,500 barrels per year.
— And business hours are limited 3 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 3 to 11 p.m. Friday, noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and closed on Sunday.