- Associated Press - Sunday, June 8, 2014

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - The borough assembly is considering allowing craft distilleries to operate in downtown Fairbanks.

The proposal before the North Star Borough Assembly comes as the city of Fairbanks considers selling its historic city hall building to the owner of Fairbanks Distilling Co. The sale is scheduled for a vote Monday night by the City Council.

Assemblyman Karl Kassel and Fairbanks Mayor John Eberhart brought the proposal in response to growing interest from distillers to open businesses similar to breweries and wineries.

State lawmakers voted earlier this year to enable distilleries to serve spirits through small samples or direct sales, up to a maximum of 3 ounces in one visit. They could also sell up to 1 gallon for customers to take home. The bill is awaiting action from Gov. Sean Parnell.

Some lawmakers expressed concern over distilleries’ impacts on local inebriate problems, but supporters dismissed those concerns, citing the generally higher cost of craft spirits.

The borough’s proposed distilleries ordinance would require a buffer between neighborhoods and business districts.

Some members were concerned about what they felt could be a high-volume, large-scale production in the relatively small historic city hall building.

Assemblyman Michael Dukes said many distilleries get by in a smaller space, finding character in their building. The old city hall isn’t well suited to high-volume production, he said, but it has “the flavor of what people are looking for.”

“I have been a fan of micro distilleries across the country and it becomes almost as much about the showmanship as it is about the production of the product,” Dukes said. “This is really where the people get to come and see and tour the facility.”

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com


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