Event facility request stirs controversy

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By Tia Lynn Ivey

managing editor

The Morgan County Planning Commission recommended approval for an event facility request filed by Algin Realty at the last regular. The request proved to be controversial as about 30 people attended the meeting to oppose it, with 12 people speaking on the record against it over the course of a nearly three-hour meeting. The nine-acre property is located in Madison at the corner of Sandy Creek Road and Fairplay Road. Algin Realty filed an application for a conditional use for an event facility in order to host wedding, family reunions, birthdays, and other parties.  Neighbors and other concerned citizens complained that the event facility, which would interfere with the farming lifestyle of the local residents with added noise, traffic, and lighting.

The site is also adjacent to a barn regularly used for parties and community events owned by Dan Rather.  Some of the neighbors expressed favor for this event facility because they know and trust Mr. Rather as a longtime resident and friend and Rather does not charge for parties held there. Those opposed to Algin Realty’s project expressed wariness of a new commercial facility being established in the area.

One neighbor wrote to the Morgan County Citizen after the meeting.

“To the astonishment of all the immediate neighbors, the committee determined that this event facility would not negatively affect my property or my family should events happen any day of the week, any number of times and up to 100 people.  They believe that there is no difference between a neighbor’s barn parties numbering seven or so per year for friends and a commercially run facility with an unrestricted number of events,” wrote Glen Bottomley. “We love our home, and we have great neighbors.  We look forward to retiring here and are very disappointed that the planning commission ignored the concerns of many property owners, and set a new precedent by approving an event facility within 155 ft. of my home according to google maps and within 400 feet four other homes.”

The six present members of the planning commission listened to each side’s case, but ultimately approved the request in a 4-2 vote.. However, the ultimate decision will be made by the Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC) at the next regular meeting on Tuesday, June 6 at 10 .m.

“The application will go to the BOC next Tuesday for a final decision,” said County Planner Tara Cooner. “The Planning Commission voted 4:2 to recommend approval for the facility. Their decision was based on the criteria for conditional use approval, and they felt the application met the criteria.”

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