Starving Artist Brewery Seeks Zoning Changes in Mason County

A local brewery is looking to take the next step, but first has zoning hurdles to clear.

Starving Artist Brewery in Mason County is unique, the entire brewery is in the owner’s back yard and only serves samples on the premises.

New plans will expand those sales to pints of beer and offer an outdoor tasting area, if the county will allow it.

“This wasn’t a plan, it just kind of happened,” says Andrew Thomas, owner of Starving Artist, “It evolved so we’re running with it.”

You may have heard of Starving Artist Brewing and may have had their beer but chances aren’t you haven’t been to the brewery. Right now they are production only, but they want to change that and add a tasting room feature to their setup.

“Just want to make it a little easier to have Starving Artist beer here,” says Thomas, “You can have a couple samples but then it’s time to buy and go. Now we want to be a little bit more accommodating and give you a little bit more of an experience.”

But that would involve changing their zoning designation, possibly a fear to any small business owner looking to change things up.

“We had a meeting with the zoning board and they were very enthusiastic about us but there were certain criteria that we didn’t meet in the new language of an agro-business,” says Thomas.

“He’s growing, which is a wonderful thing but agro-business has different standards,” says Janet Andersen, Mason County Board of Commissioners chair and member of the county Panning Commission, “Unfortunately there was a couple of standards that he does not currently meet with this plan.”

Communities have zoning laws to limit uses for certain parcels of land to protect property values and the integrity of communities.

“We’re supportive of what he wants to do but it’s getting it right,” says Andersen, “It’s getting it right to protect Starving Artist and the Thomases, and the county

The decision now heads to the Zoning Board of Appeals, who will ultimately decide whether to allow a one-time variance and let the Starving Artist serve pints of beer.

“We’re hoping that the Board will see that we’re not a new business it’s not new construction,” says Thomas, “It’s an existing business so we’re hoping that the variance will be permitted under those grounds.”