Evanston aldermen later this month are expected to get a proposal to allow microbreweries in more zoning districts.

The idea, approved last week by the city’s Plan Commission, comes as a result of a request from the owners of Sketchbook Brewing Company, who hope to open for business this summer in a building at 825 Chicago Ave.

Under existing zoning, they can set up shop as a retail goods establishment that’s permitted in the property’s C1a commercial zone.

That’s because they plan to initially limit production to 666 barrels of beer a year. But they wouldn’t be able to carry out a planned expansion to increase capacity to nearly 1,600 barrels and still be allowed under that zoning.

The city’s zoning code now permits craft or microbreweries, which produce up to 30,000 barrels a year, as well as larger breweries in the research park, manufacturing and industrial districts.

It allows brewpubs, which are limited to selling less than 1,587 barrels for off-premises consumption, as an accessory use to restaurants in the business, commercial, downtown and industrial districts.

And it allows nano-breweries, like the initial version of Sketchbook, in business, commercial, downtown and the I-1 industrial district as retail goods establishments.

The new proposal would permit microbreweries in business and commercial districts, but only as a special use, and would also shift them from a permitted to a special use in the research park district.

Requiring special use approval in the business and commercial districts would follow a pattern the city established a few years ago for micro-distilleries.

Meanwhile, the Sketchbook owners are running a campaign on Kickstarter to raise funds to launch the business. So far they’ve lined up 100 backers and are about 90 percent of the way to their $15,000 goal.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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