In a year and half, Wine on Main helped establish Clayton’s nightlife scene, one built on after-dinner drinks and drawing folks from Raleigh on weekends.
The retail shop and wine bar will soon make a slight shift in its business model, having received the town council’s blessing to add draft lines and beer by the glass.
Wine on Main spearheaded Clayton’s push to get relaxed alcohol laws on this November’s ballot but went ahead and hedged its bet by applying for a special-use permit that would allow beer sales.
Under current Clayton law, only restaurants serving mixed drinks and private clubs can serve malt beverages. But next month’s referendum would allow more establishments to serve beer.
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Wine on Main owners pursued the special-use permit, they said, so they could offer beer to customers regardless of the outcome of the referendum. Plus, the taps will already be flowing by Election Day.
On its way to approving the permit, a town council missing Mayor Jody McLeod and Councilman Michael Grannis had no questions or comments.
Also on Monday, the town council approved the latest removal of a special-use-district label from a property, this time for the lot occupied by Lone Star Steakhouse in the Walmart shopping center.
The owner, Jim Levinson, said he had no plans to do anything to his property or make any changes with his tenant, but he wanted to free up the property for the future.
“If he should pass on, he wanted his assets to be as free and clear as possible for his daughter; that’s why he’s pursuing this,” town planner Jay McLeod told the council.
The town has seen a series of these kinds of requests in the past year, as commercial property owners argue the zoning can inhibit their ability to attract new businesses. That’s because in special-use cases, the town’s public-review process can be triggered when new tenants move in.
Earlier this year, the council asked the planning department to send letters to owners of properties that carry the special-use label. The Lone Star property was the first to come in.
“This is the result of the council’s direction to inform landowners in the town and ETJ of the status of their zoning, whether or not their property had a special-use overlay, or not, and what their options were,” McLeod said.
Councilman Art Holder suggested the town should maybe take it a step further and commission a study on the effects and purpose of special-use districts.
“Seems to me this comes up a little too often,” Holder said. “Why does a business that’s right there with other businesses,have to have a special-use district?”
McLeod said the planning department sent out more than 40 letters to affected landowners, hearing back from just three wanting to pursue a rezoning. He argued that there are parts of town where the zoning designation protects various landowners and allows coexistence without the fear that one land use might overtake another on down the road.
“From our previous investigation, there were properties that seemed, in my opinion, very well justified, like an industrial parcel surrounded by residential or other buildings where maybe there’s not enough parking for the use that could occur in a 110,000-square-foot warehouse,” McLeod. “It seems like there are some parcels where the special-use-district zoning is appropriate. We tried to target the people that maybe have a better case to make.”
Councilman Bob Satterfield referenced the origins of the special-use district and said when added to the zoning ordinance, the town council was looking for more control over the types of business locating in and around certain areas of town.
“The council felt like it needed a little more control of what was being put on the highway,” Satterfield said.
Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdrewjackson