The Portland Phoenix

Washington Ave. brewery proposal to return to Portland Planning Board

A proposal for a brewery on Washington Avenue will return to the Planning Board next week, several months after the board’s last meeting on the plan ended with the applicant yelling at board members.

Jeff Curran, who founded Newscapes Brewing in 2018, has been trying to convert his home at 165 Washington Ave. into a tasting room. But he ran into trouble getting the appropriate licenses from the city, which he has said is the result of the city dragging its feet and requiring payment of exorbitant fees.

Jeff Curran, who founded Newscapes Brewing in 2018, has been trying for nearly two years to get Portland’s permission to establish a tasting room in his Washington Avenue home. (Portland Phoenix/Colin Ellis)

According to the city, he has applied for three different licenses, for a variety of brewery and restaurant proposals. Curran said he tried to transition to a restaurant license, hoping that might be an easier path to travel.

During a remote Planning Board meeting on Jan. 26, which was a public hearing for a text amendment, Curran became frustrated and tried to speak over board members. He was muted several times, but continued to speak and shout at board members, and was eventually kicked off the Zoom meeting.

Curran later said he regretted his behavior.

Although Curran claims the city has been dragging out the process, city planners have said he’s been in a position to get what he wanted but has repeatedly changed his mind.

The dispute in January was over whether Curran needed a text amendment, which essentially writes new language into the existing code, or a map amendment, which would put his property into an entirely different zone.

He will return to the Planning Board on April 13 for a public hearing on the map amendment.

Curran’s current address is in the B1 zone, which allows for smaller retail establishments, but he wants the property to enter the B2B zone, which allows higher-density businesses.

Planning Board members last time had concerns over fully rezoning the property, while Curran has argued it makes little sense to leave his property in a zone where it’s more difficult to start a business.

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