Microbrewery/ taproom on horizon for Hamel

Dominic Fragomeni and his partners in the Hamel Brewing Company decided that a location in Uptown Hamel is a key to their business plan for a microbrewery and taproom.
“We specifically sought an uptown Hamel location,” Fragomeni said at the most recent Medina City Council meeting. “We’re extremely intrigued by the history of Hamel.”
Hamel Brewing is a step closer to the goal now that the City Council has granted two key approvals for a location at 22 Hamel Road, directly west of the Hamel Veterans of Foreign Wars clubhouse. On Feb. 2 the council directed city staff to prepare approval resolutions for a conditional use permit and site plan.
At the meeting, the City Council also took up other business. Here are meeting highlights.

Fragomeni and business partner Todd Murley scouted around uptown Hamel for a likely site for Hamel Brewing. Finally they discovered a vacant lot south of the railroad tracks on which a single-family house once stood. Before it was demolished, it was the home of the Hamel Lions annual haunted house.

Hamel Brewing Company showed to the Medina City Council this concept drawing for a microbrewery and taproom at 22 Hamel Road. The building has a barnlike appearance to reflect uptown Hamel history. (Architect’s rendering courtesy of ATS&R planners, architects and engineers)
Hamel Brewing Company showed to the Medina City Council this concept drawing for a microbrewery and taproom at 22 Hamel Road. The building has a barnlike appearance to reflect uptown Hamel history. (Architect’s rendering courtesy of ATS&R planners, architects and engineers)

Due to a stroke of luck, the property at 22 Hamel Road became available. A developer had obtained approvals from the city of Medina to construct an apartment building on the site. Months passed without anything happening, and the approvals expired.
Hamel Brewing enlisted architect Joe Anton to design a building that fits in with the history of Hamel. They came up with a two-story, 5,316 square foot building with a barn-like appearance. The main level would house a bar and food service area. A second level mezzanine would provide additional seating for bar patrons. A deck would hold outdoor seating. The basement would house a microbrewery and storage for the bar.

Fragomeni said his establishment would be a brewery plus a taproom, not a bar. Unlike a bar that sells a variety of alcoholic drinks, a taproom is limited to selling beer made on the premises. Business hours for the taproom would begin at 2 p.m. and run through approximately 9, 10 or 11 p.m., thus being different from hours set by bars. The food franchise and the taproom at Hamel Brewing each would set their own hours.
Patrons would be able to fill up growlers, carry out food and consume both elsewhere.
Fragomeni said the original building on the site might have been a hotel or similar establishment that had a bar amongst its furnishings. Many years ago the bar was sold to a church in northeast Minneapolis for $25 and a case of beer. He has offered to buy back the bar for $50 and two cases of beer.
“We’re optimistic we’ll get it back,” he said. “Our intention is to use it in some manner.”

City Planner Dusty Finke said availability of parking was an issue. According to Medina’s Uptown Hamel zoning, the establishment would require a minimum of 50 parking spaces. The site plan shows 24 parking spaces to the rear of the building. During peak hours, patrons might have to park on the street or on neighboring property.
Fragomeni said he had not discussed shared parking with the VFW, a next door neighbor.
A second issue was tree replacement. The applicants plan to preserve two large black walnut trees while cutting down the other nine significant trees on the site. The City Council approved Hamel Brewing’s request for a waiver from the requirement to replace trees on the site or elsewhere.
The council instructed the applicants to minimize drainage from snowmelt that could flow to the north onto the Arent property.

Heavy blowing snow made driving interesting for City Councilors and others attending the meeting. Medina Police Chief Ed Belland said he had encountered an accident involving a school bus.
He said that around 4 p.m. the bus was attempting to climb the hill on Homestead Trail near County Road 24. It slid backwards and sideways off the road, thus blocking the progress of seven vehicles behind it. The bus remained upright, and no one was injured. The road was closed for about 45 minutes until a tow truck returned the bus to the road.

The City Council approved an amount not to exceed $5,159.50 to pay for a study of runoff and extensive erosion of a large gully in Baker Park where Perkinsville Road runs into County Road 19. Medina would share study costs with Independence, Three Rivers Park District and the Pioneer Sarah Creek Watershed. Estimated total cost is $20,638.
Watershed Commissioner Mike McLaughlin said 373 pounds of phosphorus enters Lake Independence from the gully each year. One pound of phosphorus creates 500 pounds of algae in the lake. A study, done properly, would put stakeholders in a position to get funding to do something about the problem. Once solutions are identified, a feasibility study would be the next step. If the cost of removing a pound of phosphorus proves to be too high, “it doesn’t make any sense” to do the project, McLaughlin said.
No one at the meeting was able to say where the large inflow of phosphorus is coming from. McLaughlin said that during a heavy rain it would be possible for someone to ride a whitewater raft through the gully. The heavy runoff erodes soil in the gully, and phosphorus is present in the soil.

The City Council approved an amendment to Medina’s contract with Randy’s Environmental Services that would increase the household fee for trash pick-up by $.50 per month.
Jim Wollschlager, of Randy’s, said garbage haulers were surprised by Hennepin County’s decision to raise tipping fees at sanitary landfills and solid waste transfer and processing facilities as of Jan. 1. Also, the county is limiting the amount of waste that each hauler can bring to its solid waste processing facility.
The reason is that capped sanitary landfills are creating environmental problems, Wollschlager said. Remaining sanitary landfills are filling up and the state would have to permit opening of new sanitary landfills or expansion of existing ones. The state has not issued a new sanitary landfill permit for 40 years.
He said Medina residents could be part of the solution to the problem. They can participate in the organics recycling program through which organic wastes are collected and composted. Recycling organics enables a resident to cut down on the amount of garbage he produces and, as a result, rent a smaller garbage can from Randy’s. Renting a smaller can results in a lower garbage bill each month.

Contact Susan Van Cleaf at [email protected]