The Welsh Whiteley Architects’ building on Bawden Street is the proposed site for a new brewery in Ketchikan. (Photo by Aaron Lemchen, used with permission for this report)

A code amendment to allow a planned brewery in downtown Ketchikan was approved Monday by the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly.

The amendment removes a section of the code that prohibits “light manufacturing” from taking place on the ground floor of a downtown building if that manufacturing is the primary function of the business.

Sean Heismann is the owner and brewmaster for Inside Passage Brewing Co. He told the assembly that while it might seem strange for brewing to count as manufacturing, it’s still a process of taking raw ingredients and creating a product.

“Popcorn making or candy making. Anything where you transform a raw ingredient – bakeries – could be considered light manufacturing,” he said.

Borough code has allowed light manufacturing on the ground floor as a secondary function of a business. For example: a retail store that sells popcorn made on site.

The proposed brewery will have a retail function, Heismann says, but it is a much smaller part of the business than the proposed manufacturing. Because of that, borough staff wanted a code amendment before allowing the proposed brewery to move forward.

The brewery’s planned location is on the ground floor of the Bawden Street building that is home to Welsh Whiteley Architects. The building is owned by City Rentals, LLC.

The motion to approve the code amendment passed unanimously.

Also Monday, the assembly approved a prioritized list of community capital projects that will be sent to state lawmakers in hopes of getting funding. The top project is $2.5 million for improvements at the Ketchikan shipyard.

Second on the list is an accessible ramp to the Ketchikan International Airport’s floatplane dock, at a cost of about $450,000. Third is about $380,000 to develop the Saxman Seaport.

The resolution also lists policy priorities. The first encourages the state to continue its current structure of sharing Alaska cruise head tax funds with coastal communities affected by the cruise industry.

The second focuses on the Public Employee Retirement System, also called PERS. It encourages the state to resist adding to local governments’ cost burden for that pension system.

The third encourages state lawmakers to remove or reduce policies that discourage non-organized areas from forming boroughs.

Monday’s assembly meeting was short, lasting just about one hour. Several members and the mayor were out of town, attending Southeast Conference’s annual meeting in Haines.

Mayor David Landis and Assembly Member Stephen Bradford called in to the meeting; Assembly Members Glen Thompson and Mike Painter were absent.