Wahkiakum Port District #1 commissioners met March 6 for further conversation with the partners of the Drop Anchor Brewery.
Richard Erickson, Steve Sharp, and Andy Lea attended the meeting representing the brewery. Lea explained to the commissioners that his group was looking for a 24 by 48 foot building with four walls, a roof, a floor, and a restroom. The brewery would take care of wiring, lights, and the rest, he said.
“This is pretty much an industrial building. It won’t be open to the public except for certain hours and certain days of the week. The rest of the time, the building will be sitting empty except when we’re brewing or packaging beer, “ he said.
“So there’s not somebody there every day?” asked Port Commissioner Larry Bonds, speaking via telephone from his winter home in Arizona.
"Correct," confirmed Lea. “Our initial plan is to brew one to two times a month,” he continued.
The commissioners reviewed a building estimate requested by Drop Anchor partner Richard Erickson and provided by Jim Bjorge of Bjorge Construction. Included in the $45,500 cost given in the estimate were a concrete floor, walls, windows, a garage door, a regular door, siding and trim, and electrical and plumbing roughed in.
“Would the city system be able to handle the water and sewer usage?” asked Bonds. Lea explained that for every gallon of beer produced, three gallons of water are consumed. Lea said he’d talked with the town public works staff and engineer, who assured him that the new sewer plant scheduled to be in operation later this year would be able to handle the production without issue.
Bonds asked about the odor. Lea, who worked at a brewery in the past, explained that during the brewing process, there’s a cooked grain smell and floral, vegetative smell from the hops. “Most people would find it agreeable and wouldn’t have a problem with it, “ he added.
The brewing process takes about eight hours, and the odor comes and goes during the process. The rest of the time, there’s no noticeable noise or strong smells coming from a brewery, said Lea.
“What I’m concerned with are the campers and the people in the marina, “ said Bonds.
Lea pointed out that the north-northwest prevailing wind that frequents the area would likely prevent the smell from lingering. Erickson said they didn’t anticipate brewing on the weekends, when campers and boaters are more likely to be around.
Bonds and Port Commissioner Brett Deaton asked about additional costs beyond what was provided in the estimate. “We’d need an ADA compliant restroom built to code with fixtures,” said Lea.
Port Manager Jackie Lea cautioned that a building site located within 200 feet of water would require a shoreline permit.
The Drop Anchor Brewery representatives suggesting siting the building on vacant land close to Third Street and the marina and adjacent to the port’s storage facility .
Port Commissioner Gary Quigley said he wanted to make sure the distance between the two bays of the storage facility facing the building site and the building itself would not be too narrow for large-sized trucks to maneuver in and around.
“It could be an issue,” said Jackie Lea.
“It could be advantageous to everyone to move the building away from the water and towards Second Street, away from those units on the end,” said Andy Lea.
“What’s wrong with facing Second Street?” asked Bonds. “There’s no issue with that, but we’d like to take advantage of the view if possible,” said Andy Lea.
“Why do you need the view if it’s just a brewing facility with nobody there?” asked Bonds. “There’ll be a tasting room with events on the big weekends when boaters are in town,” said Andy Lea.
“My concern is that property that borders Third Street might be more valuable to the port down the road than a brewery. If you’re going to have a place where people can sit and eat a sandwich and drink beer, that’s one thing, but if it’s just a brewery, I don’t see why it has to be on the water” Bonds said.
“Having the fronting on Second Street would be more agreeable to you?” Andy Lea asked Bonds. Yes, confirmed Bonds.
“Our timeline won’t work with a delay to get a shoreline permit, “ said Erickson. He noted that the Second Street site might be more than 200 feet from the water.
“Do we have a conflict of interest (referring to Port Manager Jackie Lea’s marriage to Drop Anchor Brewery investor Andy Lea)?” Bonds asked Port Attorney Tim Hanigan. “Jackie is not an investor, “said Hanigan, “and it’s been disclosed on the record. The lease would be with the LLC and Andy is a member of the LLC. There is probably a conflict of interest there, but it’s been disclosed, and it’s up to the commissioners to decide whether or not they’re okay with that. “
“If we were in Longview, it would matter more to me, but in Cathlamet, there’s always going to be conflicts of interest” said Deaton.
“We need to move forward soon in order to hit our permitting deadline,” said Erickson. “The permitting process requires an address. So we’re really hoping you will say yeah, we can build you a building. We can go through the infinite details later.”
“So if we had to get a shoreline permit and you couldn’t get in before then, do you still want to go? “ asked Jackie Lea.
“If it’s going to take three or four months we’d have to wait until next year to open,” said Erickson.
The commissioners directed Jackie Lea to check if the site would require a shoreline building permit. The commissioners said they would make a decision March 14. The meeting will occur at 5 p.m. at the Elochoman Marina office.
Cathlamet businesswoman Dixie Kolditz attended the meeting to say she was also interested in leasing space at the marina. She used to have a 6000 square foot building in Longview, but most recently has been at a much smaller site in Hotel Cathlamet while renting storage units for additional space. She said ideally she’d like 2000 square feet of warehouse space, which would include a retail showroom.
“That’s something we could consider, “said Deaton.