Shawnee relaxes rules on where small alcohol-related businesses can open in the city

Shawnee is amending its city code to allow small alcohol-related establishments to open in more areas across the city.

The new code follows the recent opening of two microbreweries in downtown Shawnee: Transport Brewery and Servaes Brewing Company. Under the old code, these businesses would be restricted to three areas in the city of Shawnee: areas zoned for commercial highway or planned industrial uses, or downtown in the Townsquare District (both businesses are downtown).

Servaes Brewing Company

Under the new code, microbreweries, microdistilleries and boutique liquor establishments can operate in areas zoned for commercial neighborhood use, expanding the number of location options for future businesses looking to open in Shawnee.

The planning commission on Monday voted 9-0 to approve city staff recommendations that clarified and loosened zoning regulations for these alcohol-related businesses. Commissioners John Montgomery and Brian Roth were absent.

The new code also addresses specialty non-alcoholic beverage businesses.

Stephanie Malmborg, deputy community development director, said the city code previously did not address how to regulate these types of businesses. The city’s old regulations only listed “Distilling and blending liquors” and “Microbrewery.”

The changes included adding definitions for specific types of alcohol-related businesses and clarified where they can open in the city. Types of businesses recognized under the amended city code in total include: Microbreweries, microdistilleries, boutique liquor establishments; breweries and distilleries; specialty non-alcoholic beverage establishments; and wineries and vineyards.

Breweries and distilleries must be located in areas zones for planned industrial, and wineries and vineyards must be located in areas zoned for agricultural use.

The new code also states that microbreweries, microdistilleries and boutique liquor establishments cannot be located within 200 feet of a church or school. However, the business may request an exception of the required separation. An alcohol-related business already in place would be grandfathered in if a church or school is established later on within 200 feet of that business.

Jonathan Williamson, a business partner with Transport Brewery and co-owner of Sandhills Brewing Company down the street in Mission, said he appreciated Shawnee’s proactive approach to amending the code because it accommodates microbreweries like his. State law requires microbreweries not to be located within 200 feet of a school or church, but cities that make exceptions in their ordinances allow more location options for these types of businesses.

Williamson said that when microbreweries are located near homes, then people can walk safely to and from these businesses, which reduces the risk of drinking and driving.

The city did not create additional regulations for manufacturing volume limits, tenant space proportions, and food sales outside of what the State of Kansas and Johnson County already oversee in the liquor licensing process, according to a planning staff report.