Coweta County Commission
Neighbors split on special-events permit
by Sarah Fay Campbell
Neighbors came out in full force both in support of and in opposition to a proposed special events permit for property near the intersection of Chandler Road and Smokey Road.
Two of the closest neighbors to Daniel and Michelle Holl's property spoke in support of the permit at Tuesday's public hearing before the Coweta County Board of Commissioners. Many neighbors felt allowing special events, such as weddings, to be held at the property would threaten their peaceful, rural existence.
After the public hearing — part of a four-hour meeting — the commissioners voted unanimously to deny the permit.
The Holls were seeking a special use permit under the county's special events ordinance for a 5-acre tract within their 78-acre tract.
Daniel Holl said they got the idea after a close friend needed a place to have a rustic barn wedding. She was on a tight schedule and everything else was booked. The event was a "complete success," Holl said, and family, friends and neighbors who attended "encouraged us to consider converting our barn for use for such special occasions," he said. They looked into it and decided to seek a permit.
Holl said there would be no heat or air conditioning at the barn, which limits the time of year it can be used. They had a noise study done and plan to insulate the barn to minimize sound.
"We live in our home full-time and do not want to compromise our lifestyle any more than we want to compromise our neighbors’ lifestyles," Holl said.
The county could benefit from another rustic wedding venue, he said. Several people he's talked to said they’ve had to go outside Coweta to find a suitable spot.
David Baird lives across the street. He said it's his understanding there have been several events at the property, but he never noticed them. He said the Holls have been very open and "I have no concerns whatsoever."
Kittie Bell said her house is probably the closest to the barn, and she couldn't hear anything from an event in her house or even in her yard. "We do not object in any way… we do not think it will have a negative impact on us or our neighbors.” Andy Gosch voiced concerns about noise, traffic, and lighting. He said he didn't realize there had been events on the property, but the permit would allow "basically a commercial use."
Neal Brown said he is friends with the Holls. He researched another venue on Roscoe Road and found it is booked every weekend. "It is not going to be just a few weddings… and my privacy will be impacted."
The commissioners could have placed conditions on the permit limiting the number of events, but that was never mentioned during the hearing.
Stacy Thomas said he thinks he and everybody else in the area moved there "thinking we were coming into a horse, cow, rural community" with peace and quiet. He's a preacher and has done many weddings, and "no matter what your intentions are you can't control a crowd like this."
Mike LaChey is concerned with so many possibly impaired drivers being on the dark country roads.
Bob Briggs called it a "very public commercial use" in a private area.
A total of 10 neighbors spoke against the request.
Commissioner Tim Lassetter said he thinks the Holl family "has every intention of doing everything that they could to minimize any impact that you may have."
However, when the commissioners discussed creating the special events ordinance, Lassetter wanted to make sure that anything approved wouldn't have a negative impact on the neighbors.
And he thinks the Holls’ plan will have a negative impact, so he made the motion to deny the permit.