Apple Works, located on about 10.8 acres at W179 N12536 Fond du Lac Ave., currently includes a 1,585-square-foot tasting room and store building, a 432-square-foot patio and there is another building of 2,880 square feet on the property. The item on Monday’s agenda is for the Village Board to vote on an amendment to the business’s current conditional use permit, to allow for significant expansion of the business space and operations.
If the Village Board approves the new conditional use permit, it would allow for a wedding and events venue on the current property. Apple Works Winery owner Kevin Behnke wants to renovate the existing 2,880-square-foot building and build an addition to it of 1,536 square feet, as well as adding a covered drivethrough of about 500 square feet and an enclosed entryway.
The resulting building, at 5,150 square feet, would be an event hall with a catering kitchen for up to 125 people, according to the permit application. At the Plan Commission meeting in December – at which time that body did approve the permit, to be forwarded to the Village Board with a recommendation for their approval – Behnke said he is looking to host intimate and high-end sorts of events. It was not his intention that the business would host disruptive parties that would detract from the neighborhood.
The expansion would also include adding to the outdoor patio area at Apple Works with an outdoor fireplace and a covered shelter of roughly 1,000 square feet, as well as additional parking space.
Condition on alcohol
The Village Board’s approval is the final hurdle for the Apple Works expansion. The permit will go to that body with a recommendation for approval from the Plan Commission; while the commission did not alter any of the physical expansion Behnke has planned, they did add a condition limiting the expanded operation to his current liquor permits for beer and wine.
“The Plan Commission voted to recommend a condition that liquor licenses for the event venue be limited to the existing wine and beer license. If in the future the applicant would like to apply for a hard liquor license, another amendment to the CUP can be requested,” according to the staff report in the Village Board’s packet for Monday.
During the public hearing on the expansion at the Plan Commission meeting, several neighbors spoke in opposition to the event hall being able to serve alcohol, as well as there being amplified music in the event hall and the hours for the event space going until 11 p.m. Several commented that they had not had any problems with the winery as it is; they opposed only the expansion with music, alcohol and greater numbers of people.
Behnke initially said he was looking at a hard liquor permit for the event hall, to allow that option for the private events, but he said he was also prepared to move forward with the expansion without that option. He also clarified that he had no intention of adding hard alcohol to the winery business.