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New Petaluma brewery shut for lack of permits

A new Petaluma brewery has been shut down for operating without proper permits.

Petaluma Hills Brewing Co. on North McDowell Boulevard opened last month. But city code enforcement officials halted operations this week after learning about an agreement to share the brewery's space with HenHouse Brewing Co.

Petaluma Hills owner JJ Jay was served with a shut-down notice Tuesday. He said he has been going through the city permitting process for almost a year and wasn't purposely flouting the law.

Jay said he brewed several batches of beer to perfect it, then received permission from Alcoholic Beverage Control to sell, so he did.

“I haven't done anything other than over-exuberance,” he said Thursday. “It's one of those things where my success caught up with me.”

Police Lt. Mike Cook, who oversees the city's code enforcement unit, sympathized with Jay's situation.

“He's trying to get a business off the ground,” he said. “But you've got to finish.”

Jay said the brewing equipment has been “parked,” and is empty and clean.

“I wasn't planning on brewing again,” he said. “The first brews were just to make sure I could.”

Petaluma fire inspectors were at the site Thursday and Jay said he expects the permits to be approved by the end of next week.

City officials said they have been working with Jay to help him through the permitting process, but the wastewater, fire and other permits hadn't been finalized.

Cook said representatives from several city departments will meet next week about the situation.

“Our goal is to bring him into compliance and get him going,” he said.

Wastewater is a big issue for breweries, several of which have found a niche in northeast Petaluma. The waste generated from brewing beer is too intense for Petaluma's sewer treatment plant to handle, so brewers must find another avenue for their waste.

Lagunitas Brewing Co. spends more than $1 million per year to ship its wastewater to Oakland for treatment at the East Bay Municipal Utility District plant. Its owner is considering building his own water treatment plant at a cost of up to $8 million to save the cost of sending eight to 10 tanker trucks to Oakland every day.

Jay said he doesn't anticipate any problems getting the proper permits done soon. He recently signed an agreement with HenHouse Brewing to share the 10-barrel production line.

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