After a spirited public hearing, Mayor Mark Becker broke a board of aldermen tie and approved the Village Bar’s request to operate a craft distillery.
Planning and Zoning Commissioner Bryan McDonald spoke against the distillery, saying it goes against the city’s zoning code in that accessory structures may not be used for “business or home occupations purposes.”
He said Village Bar owner Mark Disper has named the distillery the 1879 Distilling Company LLC as a separate company, and that it is in violation of the code as a separate business.
Disper said the 1879 Distilling Company has the trademarks and logos, and is formed under the Village Bar BHR LLC with all the rules and regulations, and is basically one company.
Many surrounding residents complained about the increased lighting that would come with the distillery. Disper said he had complied with all the city lighting regulations.
Des Peres resident Dave Grone spoke in support of the bar and restaurant.
“Mr. Disper has rescued the Village Bar,” he said. “The city of Des Peres is riddled with chain businesses and here we have an entrepreneur that sees an opportunity to do something different and lawful, and we’re beating him to death because he has a fresh idea. I hope he’s very successful.”
The board voted 3-3 to approve the Village Bar’s request to operate a craft distillery, leaving Mayor Becker to break the tie.
“I’ve been to many planning and zoning meetings and I believe they’ve done a lot of exhaustive research,” he said. “They recommended it 8-2, and I will vote ‘aye.’”
Aldermen John Pound, Ben Sansone and Jim Kleinschmidt voted “nay.” Aldermen Dean Fitzpatrick, Sean Concagh and Patrick Barrett voted “aye,” leaving Becker to break the tie.
Alderman John Pound said he disagreed with a distillery being located so close to the park and had some reservations about the accessory use.