Western New Jersey

Phillipsburg council says cheers to distillery idea

PHILLIPSBURG, N.J. - Phillipsburg officials are revisiting a developer's plan to open a grappa distillery in an unused town building.

Nicholas Piperata first came before town council last year with a plan to put his distillery in a building on Union Street.

Although that plan didn't work out, Piperata said Tuesday he is committed to keeping the business in Phillipsburg, and presented council with a new proposal: a six-month lease for space at the town-owned 304 Foundry Lane.

"This building is just sitting there, and nobody is doing anything with it," Piperata told council.

What he plans to do is refurbish the building and use it to make grappa -- an Italian fruit-based liquor -- and then sell it to wholesalers and restaurants.

That's contingent of course on council leasing him the space, and Piperata getting state and federal licenses.

Assuming the distillery is operational, Piperata said it will be a business with "micro impact," producing 20,000 gallons of grappa a year without producing noise or odor.

He argued that the distillery could help spark other development in the community, and will benefit the state by using locally-grown produce. 

Council praised Piperata's efforts, and approved a resolution to begin discussions with him about the lease. 

"It's just sitting there, doing nothing, so you're helping us too," said Councilman John Lynn, Jr.

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