Ian, left, and Eric Michaud of Liquid Riot Bottling Co. in Portland hope to get approval from Yarmouth to build a whiskey storage barn on family land off Granite Street. Courtesy Heidi Kirn

YARMOUTH — Ian Michaud and his brother, Eric, make award-winning whiskey at their Portland-based distillery and brewery, Liquid Riot Bottling Co.

But with increased demand for their products, they need more storage space.

The proposed location for a new whiskey storage facility in Yarmouth’s Rural Residential zone. Contributed

So the Michauds approached the town about implementing a zone change that would allow them to erect an approximately 3,000 square-foot barn where they could store whiskey as it ages.

The barn would sit on private property in the Rural Residential zone and would have minimal visual impact, and minimal traffic going in and out, Ian Michaud said this week. There would also be no production and no on-site sales, he said.

The Planning Board unanimously agreed earlier this spring that the Michauds’ plan is consistent with the town’s Comprehensive Plan, which allows agricultural products in the RR zone. Such products are defined as “raw unprocessed crops, food, beverages and other commodities derived from agriculture.”

But the zoning change has stalled at the Town Council this summer, where some councilors have questioned the Planning Board’s opinion.

Michaud said he hopes that the council will vote to approve the change on Thursday night, July 25. But that will depend on whether councilors can agree on new ordinance language proposed by Alex Jaegerman, the town’s director of planning and development, which is meant to address some of the council’s concerns.

Even if the council approves the change, Michaud would still be required to get site plan, and probably special exception approval, from the Planning Board. If all goes well, he said he hopes to get at least the concrete slab laid for the barn before winter.

Michaud said whiskey has deep roots in agriculture because farmers found that making the beverage was a good way to not only process any grain they couldn’t use, but it was often more lucrative to sell or trade in liquid form.

“I feel this is very straight-forward,” Michaud said Tuesday. “But the council seems focused on the proper verbiage and seems concerned about setting precedent.”

He initially approached the town last November about the feasibility of building the whiskey storage facility on his seven-acre property off Granite Street, where he lives on part of a former 45-acre potato farm his grandfather operated.

Michaud and his brother started Liquid Riot Bottling Co. on Commercial Street in Portland five years ago. In addition to distilling whiskey, the company also brews its own beer and operates a full restaurant and bar.

Liquid Riot distills about 60 gallons of spirit each week, Michaud said. One of the most popular products is Old Port Straight Bourbon Whiskey, made with Maine-grown corn, rye and buckwheat, and aged a minimum of three years.

The Yarmouth council last discussed the proposed zone change in a July 9 workshop, when there seemed to be general consensus that the zoning amendment applies only to a specific product and use.

The proposed amendment the council will consider states that a “storage facility shall not exceed 3,000 square feet gross floor area per lot for agricultural products produced elsewhere.” It also says that any such facility “shall not include on-premise retail sales or consumption, or on-premise processing of product not produced on the premises.” In addition, “impacts from such use shall not create undue adverse traffic, parking, noise, odor or other external impacts or nuisance effects.”

Councilor Tim Shannon expressed concern about how the new storage facility would look.

To address that, Jaegerman is suggesting that language requiring “any such storage building visible from a public street or neighboring property shall be architecturally designed to reflect the rural agricultural character of the area” be added to the zoning amendment.

Also, Councilor Richard Plourde has indicated he would be more comfortable if the zone change were limited to a narrow definition of alcohol or distilled products.

And Council Rob Waeldner wanted to make sure that the proposed definition of agricultural products would specifically exclude anything marijuana-related.

Thursday’s council meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Log Cabin, 196 Main St.