Hog Molly gets BZA approval for new location

Mike Wolanin | The Republic Hog Molly Brewing Co. has received conditional use approval to move their brewing, packaging and taproom operations to this site owned by Cummins on Hutchins Avenue in Columbus, Ind., pictured on Monday, Aug. 28, 2023.

A local craft brewery and taproom has received permission to convert a vacant industrial building into a microbrewery.

The Columbus Board of Zoning Appeals voted to approve Hog Molly Brewing Co.’s conditional use request, on the condition that the applicant will replace landscaping around the building, which is located at 1405 Hutchins Ave.

In an interview a few days prior to the meeting, Louis “Lou” Krempel, who co-owns Hog Molly with his wife, said that they had not decided whether they will be retaining a presence at their current location, 830 Depot St., or moving all of their operations to the new site.

“We would like to have a conditional use approved for a microbrewery so that we can move our brewing, packaging, and taproom operations to this site,” Hog Molly wrote in its application. “Our plan is to seat 80 patrons inside the taproom, 72 patrons on a 1,500-square-foot covered deck, and 36 patrons in a beer garden outdoor area.”

The beer garden will include a permanent covered area for events. Krempel wrote in an email to planning staff that they plan to have one or two outdoor events per week, weather permitting.

“The applicant has planned to locate all noise-producing entertainment and activities to the north side of the primary structure, which is the opposite side from the single-family residential neighborhood,” planning staff wrote.

During the time for public comment, Columbus City Councilman Tom Dell, who is a liaison to the board, said that he thought the brewery would be a “great improvement to the area” but expressed some concerns about the noise from outdoor events.

However, Brian Russell, president of Russell Development and BBG Realty Partners — which manages residential property near the site — voiced his support for Hog Molly’s application. He said that they see this as a more preferable use than the industrial purposes the building could otherwise be used for.

“We very much welcome the use and the addition to the neighborhood,” he said.

Krempel noted that the planned layout of the site provides a buffer from most nearby residential properties, except for the house managed by Russell.

“One to two events per week are not always going to be bands,” he added. “We have hosted cornhole league for parks and rec right now, so that would be considered one of those outdoor events which is pretty quiet. And of course, this would happen during good weather. So everything will get moved inside during the wintertime.”

He wrote in an email to planning staff that outdoor events will conclude by 10 p.m., except for one large annual event that ends at 11 p.m.

Hog Molly hopes to have the Hutchins Avenue location up and running by next summer, Krempel said in a previous interview.

Per a report from planning department staff, the property has been owned by Cummins, Inc.

“The applicant is going to be purchasing or leasing the company from Cummins, is that right?” board attorney Alex Whitted asked during Tuesday’s meeting.

“Not from Cummins, no,” Krempel said. “It will be purchased contingent upon the zoning passing tonight. And so it will not be a Cummins property after tonight if this application passes.”

Board of Zoning Appeals member Michael Kinder, who is a Cummins employee, recused himself from the discussion and vote on Hog Molly’s conditional use application.

Evan Kleinhenz, who is the president of Concrete Walls, Inc, also recused himself, stating that his company recently had the opportunity to submit a bid for work at the site.