He may have won a legal battle, but Haint Blue Brewing owner Keith Sherrill is still fighting to open up a brewery and taproom in Mobile.
This time, a letter sent to federal officials has, at least temporarily, prevented the 100-year-old Crystal Ice House from attaining historic status. This means that developers of the future brewery and taproom won’t be able to apply for historic tax credits, preventing reimbursement and making the renovation more costly.
“There has been a long list of complaints, both anonymous and not anonymous,” Sherrill said of the ongoing battle. “I thought it was over. I don’t think it’s ever going away.”
While the newest complaint won’t keep the brewery from opening, it could delay it and will definitely have an impact on the building’s features once completed, Sherrill said.
“I don’t have any white hairs … I’m not an old, rich guy and I don’t have any rich uncles,” Sherrill said. “We’re still going forward.”
This incident was preceded by a nearly year-long legal battle with a neighbor over zoning of the property.
The city’s zoning laws don’t have any rules for microbreweries. Without a variance, Haint Blue would be considered a food or beverage manufacturer and could only build in two locations: St. Louis Street or out by Brookley Aeroplex. However, there are other possible uses for the former ice house, such as a café or funeral home, that could prove even more burdensome to residents than a microbrewery.
In making his decision, Judge Ben Brooks did hold Haint Blue to a number of regulations. For one, Sherrill would have to insulate an interior wall of the building to “reasonably minimize the impact” of live music on nearby residents. The order also limited live music at the brewery to only two nights per week. Brooks also capped the building’s occupancy at 100, including any outdoor seating.
In order to construct the brewery at the site, Brooks ordered Sherrill to build an 8-foot privacy fence on the western property line and plant four to six buffer trees. Closing time for the facility was to be set at 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
In a video posted to the brewery’s Facebook page, Sherril said he doesn’t understand the most recent issue with the tax credits. He elaborated in a phone interview.
“It doesn’t affect anyone whether this building is historic or not,” he said.
As for an opening date, Sherrill said construction is moving at a “pretty good clip.” He implied it wouldn’t be too far past the summer season.
“I think it’ll still be hot when we open,” he said.