Plan Checks and Corrections…

A few posts back (about a month ago), I mentioned that our Building Plans had been approved by the Health Department, which was very exciting indeed.  Then, just a few days after our plans were stamped I took them over to the Dept. of Building and Safety for yet another approval process.

After they had our plans for three weeks, they finally gave them back with lots of red lines (corrections) on them, and a stack of papers detailing several “clearances” we need to get through before they will give us an approval.  Actually though, now that I’ve spent almost a week working through these corrections, I’m realizing that they aren’t really that bad.  In fact, most of the corrections deal with Accessibility Compliance (for wheelchair access, etc.), so it is just a matter of having the correct width for hallways and doorways, and the correct height for tables, etc.

As far as the “clearances” they are requesting, these have to do with other City agencies (like Fire Dept, Planning Dept, etc.).  Not a huge deal, but kind of frustrating from the perspective of process and efficiency.  It seems as though every process involving the City, has to go through LOTS of different departments that never really communicate with each other.  So if you want to accomplish anything, you need to spend lots of time running around and paying each department their own “processing” fee.

Oh well…After a year of dealing with this slow moving bureaucracy, at least I know what to expect, and how to navigate through it all with a little less frustration.  I guess the really important thing here, is that we are finally very close to starting our construction phase.  We just need to finish these corrections, re-submit to the plan checker, (get approval), and then pull the building permit.  I can actually start to see a light at the end of this long and crazy tunnel!

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More Good News!

What a great way to start the weekend…Today I found out that our TTB application has been approved!  This means that we now have our federal license to brew beer commercially.  Of course, we still need our state brewer’s license from the ABC, and then the building permits to actually put together our facility, but hey…we’re now one big step closer!

The TTB (or Tax and Trade Bureau) is the arm of the federal government that regulates the manufacturing of alcohol and other sorts of things (it used to be called the ATF…).  The application process was a bit involved, but nowhere near as bad as the application for our Conditional Use Permit.  Basically they ask you a bunch of questions about your proposed operations, such as solid waste and waste water considerations, energy usage, type and extent of security considerations, and a general overview of the operation.  Then they do an extensive background check, including checking on the source of your financing.  I suppose the reason for this is that they want to make sure some criminal isn’t financing your brewery.  The final step is a telephone interview where they go over most of the same questions.  From what I gather, the federal government isn’t too concerned about all the specific details of your operation, but they just want to make sure that you’re paying your taxes, and that none of your beer is stolen.

Another bit of good news is that I submitted our building plans to the Department of Building & Safety today.  I wasn’t able to do this until we had our approval from the Health Department, so it felt good to finally be able to submit it.  Anyway, this will be the final step before we can start the construction phase, so it seems like we can finally see the home stretch!  They said it will take about two weeks for them to complete the plan check, but I think I’ve heard that story a few times before….I’ll keep you all posted when I actually get a response though.

(Finally) Some Good News!

After many long months, our plans were approved by the Health Department today!  Hooray!  It wasn’t just a matter of strolling in with our revised plan, and walking out with an approval though.  The entire approval process took 8 (yes, eight) hours!  I had an appointment with the plan checker at 8 am this morning, and didn’t get our plans stamped until 4 pm.

One of the trickier aspects of our project is that the Health Dept. classified the tasting-room/bar-area, as a “retail food establishment”, and the brewery-area as a “wholesale food establishment”.  This translated to double the work for us, and instead of submitting the typical 3-sets of plans, we had to submit 6-sets (3 for each “side” of the operations).

As we looked over the new plans, the plan checker kept making notes about what we needed to change.  I asked her about making those fixes, and luckily she let me just draw in the changes with a red pen, right then and there on the plans.  This was great, except that I had to make all of those changes on each of the 6-sets of plans.  Just the process of making all those changes on 6-sets of plans took three hours to complete.  And somehow at the end of that process I ended up with little flecks of White-Out all over my face…no idea.

Anyway, that part is over for now, but we’ll have to deal with the Health Department once again for the final inspection before our doors open.  Now it’s on to the Department of Building & Safety to get our building permits.  I’ve already put in the phone calls, so hopefully we’ll have an appointment with them by early next week, and building permits soon after that.

I guess the celebrating will have to be short-lived for now…time to get back to work!

Busy week!

…So busy that I forgot to mention that we submitted our applications and plans to the Health Department on Friday of last week!  Aside from writing out another check, the actual process of submitting the plans was pretty painless.  Because we plan to have both a “retail area” (the bar) as well as a “wholesale processing area” (the brewery), we needed to submit two separate applications and two separate sets of plans (one for each area).  This isn’t really a big deal, except that each separate area also requires a separate application fee.  Yes, those clever bureaucrats, have figured out even more ways to siphon off those hard earned dollars from out of our pockets.  Don’t act so surprised…

The County says it typically takes 20 days to process applications, so hopefully we’ll have our plans approved around the same time the City fianlly schedules our public hearing.  I’m hoping everything goes smoothly.  The architects did a great job preparing our plans though, and went over all the Health Department codes with a fine-tooth comb, so I can’t imagine a big list of corrections coming back to us.

Oh, that reminds me…here are the 3-D view plans I had mentioned in my previous post.  These are full-page PDF files, so I’ll just link to them below, and the last one is another overhead view of the floor plan.

3d-view-1

3d-view-2

3d-view-3

floor-plan-02

Updated Floor Plans

Ok, I know I’ve been promising them for some time now, so here they are…Our revised, updated, new and improved floor plans.

sheet a2.0These will be part of what we’re submitting to the Health Department along with our applications for a bar/retail permit and a food-processing/wholesale permit (yes…we have to submit two bloody applications, one for each separate area of the business).  The good news though, is that all of the work is completed for the applications, so I will be submitting them tomorrow!

Here’s another copy, but a bit bigger and without the text on the sides.  It is a little difficult to get a clear picture of what the finished building will look like, but soon I should be able to post a few of the 3-D view drawings which will make it easier to visualize.floor-plan

The team at Koffka/Phakos Design did a great job with bringing our plans into compliance with the health code, but also really improved the aesthetics and functionality of the whole design.  It’s pretty exciting to see the plans and be able to look at all the different angles.  It somehow makes everything seem a little more real.  Oh, by the way…here’s a link to the Health Department’s construction guides for wholesale and retail food service (in case anyone cares).

Anyway, as I said, I’ll be submitting the apps to the Health Department tomorrow so wish me luck!