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Thread: Party Barns: agritainment event businesses

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Party Barns: agritainment event businesses

    As a square dance caller, I've become increasingly aware of repurposed family farms as wedding and event destinations.

    As a Facebook user, I've become connected to neighbors who are being impacted by one such attractive nuisance.

    Excellent article by a monthly tabloid (disclosure: I was a free-lance writer for them in the 80s)

    Another one

    One more

    My recommendations include: RTFZO (read the zoning ordinance) which stipulates direct access to a paved road, complying with the state's requirements for a campground, the usual health dept/parking/fire/sanitary provisions. Also, the noise ordinance should shut everything down by 10 pm, "plainly audible at a distance of fifty (50’) feet from the building, structure, or vehicle in which it is located, or which is plainly audible in a dwelling unit other than that in which it is located..."

    I suggested they set up video cameras for party weekends with time-stamped documentation, along with distance measurements showing how far they are from ground zero.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    In Oregon, almost all farms are on land zoned for exclusive farm use and are required to be used only for agricultural purposes. They get a very significant tax break that way. Accessory use as a wedding site etc is strictly limited. For example, a winery wanted to have several "events" a year totaling 44 days. Court of appeals said that number is "dangerously close" to "the tail wagging the dog" in the sense of the accessory use being more important than the primary use. I don't know if Michigan has anything like that but it bears looking into.

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    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    We're having trouble with these in kansas, but not so much my county. It's the counties west of KC. We have an AG exemption that lets you do most anything. Growing, processing, and selling and the property is all AG. Having people visit as AG tourism can be borderline. For my pumpkin patch and tree farm I totally call them AG. I have a nursery that I let get away with it too. Our law calls for us to favor AG, so I do. The problem is the wineries, yes there is wine in Kansas and I don't recommend it, are breaking into commercial business by renting barns for parties, weddings, etc. we hear the same noise complaints, etc. they still want to be called AG, but the planners, we met last month, decided that just the rental space and party use is not AG and must follow commercial codes and get use permits. We'll see if the law suits start. The poor elected officials don't know what to do. They want to support the business's, but they hate e complaints. Sucks for them. I'll have to support the camera thing, especially if it captures noise and time stamps it. If they can get a gps location somehow they can get a rough measurement. Then maybe declare the thing a nuisance. Our state code would make it hard as AG is specifically not a nuisance,

    Good luck.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    In NC, counties are basically prohibited from messing with agricultural exempt uses in any way. This specifically includes the following:

    "When performed on the farm, "agriculture", "agricultural", and "farming" also include the marketing and selling of agricultural products, agritourism, the storage and use of materials for agricultural purposes, packing, treating, processing, sorting, storage, and other activities performed to add value to crops, livestock, and agricultural items produced on the farm, and similar activities incident to the operation of a farm."

    Basically, these types of uses are off limits for us. It's probably a gray area, and we could potentially make a case, but it's simply not worth the risk. Agriculture for many is a fancy term to circumvent our zoning process. I had one guy try and open a 10,000 square foot textile mill as an "AG exemption". That one I did crack down on. Here, when an applicant says something about an agricultural use, you can be rest assured it's something shady.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by AG74683 View post
    Here, when an applicant says something about an agricultural use, you can be rest assured it's something shady.
    Funny, here when someone mentions non-profit or church or "for the benefit of 'the people'" it is something shady - 9 times out of 10.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    My example is claiming to be a "campground," based on historic use. More of a summer camp facility, actually, with a lodge building and smaller cabins. There are no RV or tenting sites, no sanitary facilities (porta-pots are brought in for events), inadequate roadways within the site, substandard access roads nearby.

    Previous party renters have provided helpful blog posts. "Then when the ceremony is over 250 of your closest friends show up for a day of volleyball, fishing, canoeing, camping, swimming, bonfires, giant size Jenga, games…the list goes on and on." Wait, what? The applicant states that parties will be limited to 150 attendees. "We almost set a tree on fire" with the paper lantern launch. Owner lives elsewhere, and it seems that the caretaker hands over the facility to the renters and then leaves; swinging-by-their-tails commences. Gosh, we didn't know that our renters would ignore the noise curfew, set off fireworks, send small bonfires skyward during a dry summer season.

    I'm looking up ADT on the nearby dirt roads which provide access. Several renters have provided directional maps on their wedding blog sites; good to know that several hundred partiers will be driving past your house that evening.


    Adding this for ease in finding it later.

    Section 5.11.
    Campgrounds.
    Publicly or privately owned and operated campgrounds and camp buildings providing temporary living quarters for campers on a daily, weekly or seasonal basis shall be subject to the following.
    A.
    The minimum site area shall be twenty (20) acres.
    B.
    The site shall have direct access to a paved public or private road.
    C.
    A minimum one hundred (100) foot setback shall be established around the perimeter of the property for the purpose of buffering a private campground or recreational vehicle park in relation to adjacent land currently zoned or used for residential purposes. The perimeter buffer shall be kept in its natural state. Where natural vegetation or land contour are insufficient to buffer a private campground or recreational vehicle park in relation to surrounding properties, the Planning Commission may require additional setback, landscaping, and/or berming according to Section 6.2.5, Screening Between Land Uses.
    D.
    Temporary campgrounds are strictly prohibited.
    E.
    Mobile homes, as defined, shall not be permitted to be located within a campground.
    F.
    The use and occupancy of a campground shall be in strict compliance with the current laws and requirements of the State of Michigan governing such uses.

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    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I would also document any trash on the roads. Another part of the nuisance.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dvdneal View post
    I would also document any trash on the roads. Another part of the nuisance.
    Good thought, but empties here are worth ten cents. The bottle bill changed the toss-it-out-the-window behavior.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    I think a working farm that rents the barn out for a side business is awesome and should be encouraged - events are boons for the local economy, and seriously, farmers do not make a lot of money farming, so if they can find a way to keep farming their land viable, then I say all power to them

    I would even consider this an accessory use to farming and just make sure there is a field for parking and bathrooms and that's it

  10. #10
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    That's generally how I treat it in my county, but we don't have any real problems. It's maybe a monthly even and the people have 40 acres or more so no big problems. Where we see problems in Kansas is closer to KC where it's rural estate type housing mixed into remnant farming and that one winery nearby that has a huge party every weekend and you end up with noise and trash competing against those rural subdivisions. Basically things are closer together so it's a bigger nuisances out there.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

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