The Cambridge Village Board last week gave key approvals to Dancing Goat Distillery’s proposed expansion onto a second site along Lagoon Road, east of State Highway 134.
The Village Board approved a land purchase, a certified survey map and master plan for the project on Sept. 29 and approved a developer’s agreement at a special meeting on Oct. 2.
The Village Board’s action finalizes the sale of the 50 acres on which the project would sit to Dancing Goat. The village bought the acreage from a neighboring farm family in the 1970s.
Over the next 14 years, Dancing Goat plans to construct five rick houses for aging and storing whiskey and spirits, a packaging facility and a caretaker’s house on about 50 acres of former farmland about a mile east of its existing site on Vineyard Drive. The Vineyard Drive building, completed in 2017, would remain its production facility.
The village’s Plan Commission on Sept. 9 recommended approval of the master plan and certified survey map. It also gave a thumbs up to the proposed boundaries of a new 100-acre tax incremental finance district that would encompass Dancing Goat’s new site and the surrounding area. The commission also recommended approval of a list of projects that could be funded through the new TIF district.
Dancing Goat Director of Operations Mike Reiber has said the hope is to begin construction in October of the first, 44-foot-tall, 8,700-square-foot unheated rick house that would hold up to 7,800 barrels of whiskey. The barrels would age there for at least six years.
The next step would be the construction of a larger, 20,000-square-foot rick house in 2022 that could hold up to 24,000 barrels. That would be followed by the construction of three more, similarly-sized, rick houses envisioned to be built between 2026 and 2034.
The rick houses “are unique and would be the first built in the state of Wisconsin,” Dancing Goat said in a development plan submitted to the village. “They represent a key strategic element in the continued development and expansion of our distillation capabilities and they also add depth to the destination and consumer experience at the distillery.”
The rick houses would be gated and fenced and would not be open to tours like the existing distillery building on Vineyard Drive, Dancing Goat said.
A 20,000-square-foot packaging facility envisioned to be built in 2026 would be open to public tours, it said.
A caretaker house, of at least 1,000-square feet, is additionally envisioned to be constructed around 2034 “to provide onsite housing for an employee who would… provide an additional level of security and response in support of the development as a whole,” Dancing Goat said.
Dancing Goat has worked with the Cambridge Volunteer Fire Department on a fire protection plan, which is complex due to the volume of flammable alcohol expected to be stored on the site.
“We find their fire protection plans to be well thought out and a good balance of the need for safety and the need to age their product in a manner that their distilling process requires,” the fire department wrote in memo included in the development plan.
Cropland and goats
The property is proposed to be rezoned from agriculture use to a mixed-use development, with commercial and agriculture uses. It is currently leased to area farmers, and includes the foundations of a former farmhouse and barn.
Dancing Goat envisions leaving some of the acreage in farmland to grow crops used in its distilling process, such as corn, barley, rye and other small grains. It said retaining some farmland is also key to its Wisconsin-centered brand.
“We want to be very Wisconsin, and we want to present that facet genuinely and honestly, with a lot of excitement,” Reiber said.
He said the long-term goal is for that farmland to be certified organic, which Dancing Goat called “important” to the company future plans.
Dancing Goat also envisions keeping live grazing animals in a fenced-in area on the site, potentially including “goats, cattle, horses, ponies, donkeys, sheep, emu, alpaca, etc.”
It also envisions keeping honeybees on the property, in part to promote “healthy pollinator populations.” The company said Wisconsin wildflower honey “is an item that we have great interest in providing to our marketplace in some form.”
And it said it envisions “outdoor recreational events,” in open spaces between buildings.
Some of the property would remain in an existing conservation easement.
rom the site, which lies about a quarter mile from Koshkonong Creek.
On Sept. 9, the Plan Commission also held a public hearing on the proposed creation of the new TIF district. It is envisioned to encompass Dancing Goat’s new site and stretch westward across State Highway 134 to include, portions of the Vineyards at Cambridge neighborhood, the existing Dancing Goat property on Vineyard Drive and a single commercial lot at Kenseth Way and Katie Court, behind an existing Fort HealthCare clinic.
The new TIF district is not proposed to include the Cambridge Winery event center on Kenseth Way, Village Administrator Lisa Moen said.