The facade of New River Brewing.

The facade of New River Brewing.

WEST JEFFERSON — At the West Jefferson Board of Aldermen meeting July 1, the board agreed to lease a piece of town property to New River Brewing Taproom and Eatery. The leased land will give the restaurant and brewery an outdoor area for its customers to enjoy the fresh air.

Owner Greg Hershner first met with the board at their June 3 meeting about leasing the space, but the two sides were held up by the lease not being a simple transaction. Both sides wanted part of the lease to have a clause releasing the town from any insurance liability that could be caused by people drinking next to an active road.

The other part to work out was the actual definition of what would be leased. Hershner proposed a 7 ft.-deep strip of pavement in front of the building, which the town agreed would be fine, but the unspecific nature needed more defining.

At the time, only Alderman Calvin Green voiced any opposition, purely on the basis of opening the floodgates to more businesses allowing outdoor drinking and leasing spaces for patios. Nevertheless, the discussion was tabled until town attorney Jak Reeves could prepare a defined leasing contract.

Nearly a month later, Hershner was back to finalize the lease. A deal was made for New River Brewing to pay $500 annually for five years, with the business also taking insurance liability out of the town’s hands. The area was defined as a 7 ft.-deep strip of pavement from one side of the building to the other, allowing them to open the garage door on the front for easy entrance and exiting.

While the rest of the aldermen agreed with the plan, Green still had reservations. He told Hershner he supported Hershner’s business and hoped everything worked out, but he would not go back on his prior comments. Hershner understood, thanking Green for the support.

Aldermen Stephen Shoemaker moved to approve the lease, with Alderman Jerry McMillan seconding and the board voted 4-1 in favor of the agreement.

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