When Main and Six Brewing Company opens its doors on November 4, it’ll mark the addition of a second brewery to the rapidly expanding list of new businesses in the Springfield neighborhood.
But for many in the community, it signifies a much bigger victory.
The brewery was initially proposed last summer, but ran into trouble gaining approval because of its close proximity to churches and schools.
Specifically, the proposed development ran afoul of a provision in the city Code of Ordinances that states, “There shall be not less than 1,500 feet from an established school or church for the on-premises consumption of alcoholic beverages, not in conjunction with the service of food, except as specifically provided herein.”
In order to move forward, the project needed to obtain approval to have this particular provision waived.
The Springfield community – including its church-going population – voiced overwhelming approval and support for the project.
Unfortunately, the leaders of the churches in question – as well as other Jax churches that decided to hop on the bandwagon – were intent on fighting to make sure this waiver would never be granted.
They enlisted the help of a like-minded city council member to play the role of obstructionist. Councilman Reginald Gaffney took the opportunity to feign moral outrage at the proposed development, attempting to delay the project’s Land Use and Zoning committee hearing.
Gaffney even requested that he be allowed to personally vet all projects in Springfield, Gaffney’s own district – a move which would have effectively brought the area’s pending renaissance to a grinding halt.
Then, when Gaffney’s efforts were largely ignored and the hearing went forward anyway, the results would then be negated because the opposition group was able to locate three churches in the Springfield area that were not notified of the hearing.
The second LUZ hearing, however, would prove to be the deciding factor in favor of Main and Six and the community as a whole. Over a hundred residents showed up to the public hearing to voice their support for the project. The debate was contentious, as expected, and there were plenty of half-baked arguments made against the project by religious leaders and elder council members.
After a long evening of debate, the brewery project was approved by the committee, and later by city council. And now, opening day will mark the official culmination of this key victory.
And while the brewery will surely be an asset to Springfield and will be enjoyed by the community, it’s important to remember the bigger story behind its arrival.
It’s a story of a neighborhood standing up to influences that have long been deeply ingrained in local politics, and triumphing over archaic regulations and bureaucracy to achieve a positive result for their community.