College Township OKs rezoning request for Happy Valley Brewing, which seeks more parking

Customers seeking dinner and a microbrew beer might soon find nabbing a parking spot a little easier at one township business.

Township Council approved a rezoning request Thursday for the owners of Happy Valley Brewing Co. on Elmwood Street, who are seeking to build a parking lot across the street from their business.

Owner Greg Somers has said the brewery has had a good response and is in need of additional room for parking.

“Basically, more is better when it comes to parking in this case,” Somers previously said.

Somers and his business partner, Scott Lucchesi, who owns several taverns around the State College area — including the American Ale House, Champs and the Phyrst — are seeking space across the street from the brewery on a wooded, sloping property at the intersection of Elmwood Street and a private lane.

The first step was asking that the 1.5 acre property, which is made up of two parcels, be rezoned from R1 single family residential use.

One of the parcels is vacant and the other has a single home.

Following a brief public hearing Thursday with no comments from anyone in attendance, council approved the request to rezone one of the parcels to gateway commercial, which would allow for parking lot use.

Council previously decided that the second parcel, which is further up the hill, should be tied into an ongoing rezoning process for the former Hilltop Mobile Home Park.

Somers and Lucchesi will still have to submit a land development proposal before they could build on the site, but Somers has previously confirmed that the owners are looking at the space for parking.

“We don’t have a land plan at this point, we are only asking to be rezoned,” Somers has said. “But I don’t think it’s a secret our plan is to do several terraces that would be a level parking lot stepping up that hill.”

Councilman Lynn Herman has expressed concern about safety of customers crossing Elmwood Street on their way from the restaurant to the parking lot.

Township officials said that concern is among of a number of issues that could be reviewed during the land development process.

Happy Valley Brewing opened last year in a remodeled barn that was originally built in 1814, according to the township.

Somers and Lucchesi purchased the building in 2011 for $440,000, and got township approval for their concept in March 2012.