Winery gains approval to operate on Spokane Ave.

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City Council last week approved a building on Spokane Avenue planned to house a winery.

Council approved a conditional use permit to develop a mixed-use building at 20 Spokane Avenue. Plans call for remodeling and expanding the existing building that is south of Stumptown Marketplace.

Nicole Erickson and Bald Eagle LLC requested the permit for the building.

“We want this to be a place of education and enjoyment of wine,” Erickson said. “A winery is an attraction and good addition to downtown.”

A winery is planned for the first floor, and three residential units would be located on the second floor. The total size of the building is proposed about 3,770 square feet.

A CUP is required as a winery, considered similar to a microbrewery or micro-distillery, is a bar under the city zoning regulations. The property is currently zoned WB-3.

The Planning Board when it considered the request last month raised concerns about the location of the winery across the street from Whitefish Middle School.

City Planner Bailey Minnich said the Montana Department of Revenue requires a winery to have a manufacturing license that has no distance requirement for its relationship to schools.

The state requires a minimum distance for retail beer and wine licenses from schools and churches.

Additionally, in 1997 the city of Whitefish amended city code to eliminate any distance requirement between the license establishment and churches or schools if the property is in the WB-3 zoning district.

Council, also:

• Approved a conditional use permit request by Aaron McPherson to convert an existing detached garage into a guest house at 220 Peregrine Lane.

• Approved a preliminary plat request from James Dodkin of BCD Engineering to subdivide a property into two parcels located at 441 Armory Road.

• Approved an ordinance that bans putting up unattended structures in city parks. The ordinance contains an exception for displays installed by the city, or those authorized by the city through special event permits.

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