The village of Northport has prohibited popular microbrewery Sand City Brewing Co. from reopening its tasting room, citing noncompliance with zoning code after some neighbors complained about crowd control, noise and intoxicated patrons.
The village zoning board of appeals voted 4-0 on Feb. 15 to temporarily close the tasting room. Board member Janet Pushee was absent from the vote.
“We were not prepared for the success that we were going to have,” said brewery co-owner Kevin Sihler in a December public hearing held by the zoning board of appeals.
The brewery first opened on Main Street in 2015, with a tasting room adjacent to the on-site brewing operations for samples of their wares. In September, the brewery closed the tasting room to rebuild the walkway, with the intention of reopening the tasting room after finishing the repairs.
Praised for their New England-style IPAs, Sand City sells its beer in small quantities at the brewery’s back entrance off Scudder Avenue. With a limited number of cans released for each variant, fans queue up outside the brewery for the chance to buy the beer on release days announced on Sand City’s Facebook page.
Sometimes there are hundreds of thirsty beer fans waiting in line, the brewery owners acknowledged.
“Your success creates problems for the village,” said board chairman Andrew Cangemi at the hearing. “This was never supposed to be a bar. It was never supposed to be more than the allowance to give them small tastes so they can sell there, and it’s turned out to be something significantly more than that.”
The Northport police in 2017 issued four violations to the brewery, including one for patrons drinking alcohol while waiting in line to buy beer, and one for occupancy issues in the tasting room. The village administrator also said he gets an average of two complaints a month from neighbors about the beer line patrons.
“When we do post that we are going to be selling beer, we do say please obey all local ordinances and laws,” said brewery co-owner Bill Kiernan at the hearing.
Kiernan said the brewers were fledgling entrepreneurs who wanted to cooperate with the village on finding solutions. “Kevin and I, my business partner, you know, we love this town. Like this is why we made this business here,” he said at the hearing. “We want to run a good business, you know, and if people come to us and they talk to us about what’s going on, we want to make it better.”
Cangemi did not return calls for comment.
“We believe our brewery adds a great dimension to the beautiful Village, we love our community and the people, and we love working hard to make the best product we can,” Kiernan said in an email to Newsday, adding that the brewery owners are currently “looking at our options and have been trying to work with the Village.”
One village official called the brewery “an important addition” to Northport. “I support it and hope for its success, but also feel that the zoning board’s concerns are serious and need to be addressed and followed,” said Deputy Mayor Henry Tobin in a phone interview. “I hope in the future the tasting room will be able to continue and serve the people of Northport once the zoning board’s conditions are satisfied.”
The brewery owners have to return for another compliance hearing on March 28.
Some of Sand City’s beers:
Soylent Green double IPA
Two Legit double IPA
Handsome Maniac Belgian-style Tripel
Stormborn Belgian blonde
Luca Baby Session IPA
Southdown Breakfast Stout