Planning commissioners are working on an event venue ordinance.
Discussions on the potential ordinance began around the same time as the rural resort discussion. That amendment was passed in May and added “rural resort” to the list of special permitted uses in the A-1 Agricultural District. A “rural resort” is defined as “a destination designed to provide recreation, entertainment and accommodations to transient guests.” Permissible activities at a rural resort include conferences; weddings; retreat facilities; educational and entertainment facilities; dining and picnicking facilities; camping and glamping facilities; resort store; indoor and outdoor athletic and physical fitness facilities; hiking, cycling, fishing, canoeing, rafting, tubing, wildlife observation shelters; boat landing/docks; equestrian trails and facilities; administrative, utility service, laundry and construction facilities and staff living quarters. Rural resorts must be situated on lots that are a minimum of 100 acres with at least 50 percent remaining open space. Buildings cannot exceed 48 feet, four stories.
However, the amendment didn’t address an event venue, such as those hosting weddings. According to planning commissioner Steve Carpenter, 12 are being advertised in the county even though there’s no actual ordinance allowing them, save for a few that made it in under the county’s previous brief and season use allowance.
“Some events are going on, people are using property for events,” planner Ligon Webb said. “We could call them out, but there’s nothing [currently on the books] to apply for.”
Webb suggested modifying the rural resort ordinance to remove the 100 acre requirement and thus also cover event venues.
“It’s a great ordinance, but the way it’s written now it’s null because of the 100 acres,” he said. “How many 100 acre parcels do we have in the county? A few.”
Webb said the ordinance requires a special use permit which would give the board of supervisors oversight on issues like number of guests, parking and amplified music.
Former planning commissioner Carty Yowell agreed.
“Remove the acreage and add it by special use in C1,” he said.
Carpenter noted that event venues and a rural resort are significantly different.
Planning commissioner Mike Mosko suggested the commission have a meeting dedicated solely to event venues in order to make some progress on the issue.
Meanwhile, commissioner Peter Work questioned if event venues are a good thing for the county.
“I’m all for the notion we should be helping people generate revenue for themselves and the county, but I don’t think we’ve done our homework,” he said. “We haven’t addresses the question as to if it’s good for the county. We haven’t looked at other localities. I don’t think anyone of us would like to have an event venue next to our property.”
Planning commissioner Fay Utz said she supports people using their land to make money.
“In speaking with so many in the county, people are looking for something, a way to make money and do so on a small amount of land.”
However, she said she’s concerned about the safety aspects involved.
“I’m concerned with safety if converting barns,” she said. “We need to be a little tighter on that. We’d really have to revise [the] rural resort [ordinance] to fit this.”
Planning commissioner Mike Fisher said he wants to protect people.
“If everyone with three acres has a band, no one will get any sleep,” he said.
The planning commission will continue the discussion at a future meeting.