With steady growth in popularity over the past several years, craft beer soon could be brewed in Goldsboro.

The city planning department is working to update its unified development ordinance to allow microbrewers to operate in Goldsboro.

Microbreweries are prohibited in Goldsboro because the city currently has no permitted use for them.

Jennifer Collins, Goldsboro planning director, said the amended ordinance will give microbreweries the same (conditional use) permitted opportunities as bars, nightclubs, pool halls and places of entertainment.

“Some (microbreweries) have taste on site (or taprooms) where an ABC license comes into play,” Collins said. “Obviously, they would need a conditional-use permit for that.”

City planning staff is proposing to amend a section of the ordinance in the special and conditional use regulations that will allow microbreweries to locate in the central business district, general business districts, shopping center districts and highway business districts.

Collins said several brewers have shown interest in locating in Goldsboro.

“I think it would be good,” she said. “A lot of these microbreweries are in downtown areas. But we don’t want it to be saturated with them. That’s why we put the stipulation in there.”

A stipulation in the amended ordinance would allow no more than five microbreweries in the central downtown district, bounded by the south side of Ash Street, the east side of George Street, the north side of Elm Street and the west side of William Street, Collins said.

The original ordinance allows two similar establishments per block in the central district.

Beer and malt beverages are made on the premises of microbreweries, then sold and distributed. Microbreweries produce less than 15,000 barrels (about 31 gallons) of beer per year, according to the ordinance definition.

The closest microbreweries to Goldsboro with taprooms and beer gardens are R&R Brewing in Mount Olive, Double Barely Brewing in Smithfield and Mother Earth Brewing in Kinston.

According to the Brewers Association for small and independent craft brewers, North Carolina has 291 craft breweries that produce 1,254,024 barrels (ranked seventh in the nation) of craft beer per year, about 5 gallons per adult. Craft beer has about a $2.042 million economic impact on the state.

Nationwide, retail sales of craft beer increased 7 percent last year to $27.6 billion and now account for more than 24 percent of the $114.2 billion U.S. beer market, according to the Brewers Association.

Council will consider the ordinance amendments July 15 after a recommendation by the planning commission.