By Reann Huber
Morgan County residents showed their opposition at this month’s Morgan County Planning Commission meeting towards a potential wedding facility on Shepherd Road.
After hearing from the public and taking in all the concerns, as well as hearing from the applicants again, commission members denied the approval of the conditional use.
Julie and Donald Parsons were requesting an approval for conditional land use permit to operate an event facility, specifically limited to weddings, on 58 acres on Shepherd Road. There was no question of rezoning the land from AG zoning to a commercial land use, but solely to gain approval from the planning commission to operate a 4,200 square foot rustic barn as a wedding venue, called Barn at Shepherd Moon Farm.
Within their application and in the report from staff member Tara Connor, they addressed several of potential concerns from this event facility, including traffic and noise.
Other similar event facilities were also included in their application that were close to other residential homes, and the event facility being requested by the Parsons would have the furthest distances from residential homes in comparison to event facilities in the area.
The Parsons had a very thorough application for this conditional use, as noted by commission members and understood the limitations of what they can do under the conditional use, but residents on Shepherd Road and those in the surrounding area still showed their oppostion.
A primary concern for many was the potential loss of the rural. Many enjoyed the quiet nights and lack of light pollution that they currently have and believed that this wedding facility would bring a large issue of noise and light into their community even with the tree buffers.
People were also concerned with the safety of the community as Shepherd Road is not a major highway and an increase in traffic from the weddings would be detrimental to the neighbors and bicyclists that come through the area, especially with the potential of drunk drivers leaving the facility.
Some voiced concerns that they had from previous experiences they had in other areas where an event facility caused poor noise conditions and other traffic issues, and it eventually lead to even worse conditions for the community as a whole.
The Parsons heard all of the concerns from the public and addressed how they planned to abide by the concerns to the commission and also told what they hoped to bring to the community through this conditional use.
“We are risking as much or more, or at least no less than anybody in this room with our finances and with our future and our [daughters’] futures,” said Julie Parsons. “We have not taken this lightly. We want this to benefit the community and to Shepherd Road, that’s why we incorporated the road into the name of the farm.”
Commission members understood that they have not received complaints after similar event facilities had been put in place, but also understood how passionate people were about maintaining the current function of a community.
A motion was made by commission member Connie Booth to accept the operation of the event facility under conditional use, but the motion failed with only three votes. A motion was then made to reject the conditional use and the motion carried.