Conditional uses for three businesses and one housing plan gave details to New Castle’s city council during a 90-minute public hearing Tuesday.
Most of the conversation centered around a proposed craft distillery at 334 E. Washington St. in the building and train caboose that currently houses Clark’s Studio. The building is owned by DON Enterprises, which also now owns the Packard Paints and Clark’s Furniture buildings just below the county courthouse. The business, New Castle Union Station Craft Distillery Inc., plans to distill spirits in the building, give tours and have tastings and potentially become part of a network of nearby distilleries, attracting newcomers to New Castle’s downtown.
One aspect of the business — which needs city approval before it can give the necessary documents to the state for a certification that can take months — questioned by council was about the excess grains or water that could be going into the sewer system. David Goldberg, the president of the company, testified that at many small distilleries the excess from the still is given to farmers for feed. Rob Firmi, who will also be running the company, said farmers generally are receptive to receiving the free feed. He added that the plan is to buy locally grown grains, which is a plus in the eyes of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
Linda Nitch, the Lawrence County Regional Chamber of Commerce’s economic development director, said this project is near and dear to her office for many reasons — besides being located across the street from the organization’s office.
“We think it will be a positive project,” she said, adding that it will help people experience New Castle in a new, complimentary way.
Hearings were also held for a new business going into the former Chica’s Pizza at 341 E. Washington St. Matthew Blakely, who’s family ran the restaurant, plans to use a portion of the building for 10 to 12 game of skill machines. Tentative plans are for the business to be open seven days a week. Councilwoman MaryAnne Gavrile requested conditions be put forth in terms of fixing up the building, with council agreeing on 90 days from July 1 to get the building’s front looking presentable and six months for the rest of the building.
Attorney Louis M. Perrotta, representing Justin Sheldone and Patsy DeFrank, spoke about his clients’ request for office, personal service, retail business and game of skill machines at 100 E. Reynolds St. Currently there are four or five game of skill machines, but more may be added.
John DiBuono, representing DON Enterprises, testified to the organization’s plans to redevelop a five-lot parcel on the Lower East Side just a block up from the courthouse along Walnut Street. DON Enterprises is requesting the lots be consolidated so it can begin building two houses. Because of setbacks, construction can’t begin until the consolidation is approved.
The consolidation plan was the lone item on council’s Tuesday caucus agenda and can be voted on at Thursday’s meeting.