Proposed Wedding Venue

Nearly a dozen people who live near the site of a proposed wedding venue spoke out against it at Tuesday’s Franklin County Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

The plan board voted unanimously to send the request for a conditional use permit to its review committee. The board also elected to keep the case file open until April 4 in order to gather more information.

Robert Muckler is seeking a CUP to host “special events periodic” at his property in a nonurban and agricultural district. Muckler’s property is located just off Highway OO north of Spring Valley Road and 1,000 feet from the Pacific city limits.

The plan board was familiar with Muckler’s property. Last year he applied to change the zoning of the property from suburban development to NUA. Wedding venues are allowed in the NUA district with a CUP.

In December, the county commission approved the change.

CUP Request

Muckler said he and his wife have been in the wedding business for years. He is a wedding planner and she is a photographer.

The couple had been looking for a venue to host weddings. They purchased the 30-acre site because of it’s natural location and views.

The venue, which would only occupy the 10-acres zoned NUA, would have 146 paved parking spaces. That number is 26 more than required by the county’s code.

Muckler is proposing two buildings on the site — one for weddings and one for receptions. The facility also would have a courtyard for outside ceremonies.

There would be only be one event per day at the facility, he said, and all events would be over by 11 p.m.

Muckler said an appraiser told him that, in his opinion, the venue would have no impact on the property values of neighboring properties.

Andrea Lohmeyer with Cochran Engineering said the site is in an area without access to several utilities. She said the facility would likely need a large septic system and a well for water.

The buildings also would need sprinkler systems, she said, which would likely require a holding tank.

Lohmeyer said even with the buildings and parking lot, the Mucklers would maintain the area’s green space and preserve the natural look.

As far as traffic is concerned, Lohmeyer said according to a MoDOT study, Highway OO is only used by 2,108 cars per day. With the venue maxing out at 300 guests, she said the traffic impact of 140 cars a few days a week would be minimal.

Andrew Lammert, an attorney representing Muckler, reminded the board it needs “clear and convincing evidence” to not award the permit. Lammert said, in his view, Muckler meets all the requirements needed to obtain a CUP.

Objections

For more than an hour, people stepped forward to address the commission and voice their objections.

Residents living or owning property near the proposed venue expressed a variety of concerns.

“It’s too much, too loud, too long and too (much) light,” said Jerry Wilding, who is concerned about the size of the venue, the size of crowds, noise pollution, light pollution and other issues.

Wilding said he doesn’t find it fair that the burden of proof should be on the opponents to show why the project is flawed. He said Muckler should pay for a Highway OO study.

He also said the highway is windy and dangerous and added cars would only increase problems.

Other neighbors agreed. Several people spoke out about potential drunk wedding guests causing crashes on the road.

One resident, Judith Landvatter, said she spoke with MoDOT Area Engineer Judy Wagner about Highway OO.

Landvatter said she was told there was no money in the budget to add shoulders, a turn lane or make any other improvements.

Other opponents focused on property values. Three members of the Kerr family said the venue would dramatically impact property value.

Robert Kerr said appraisers found that his sons could lose more than $100,000 in property value if the venue was built.

Other complaints focused on environmental damage, water runoff and green space destruction.

Decision

After more than two hours of testimony, the board didn’t spend much time discussing the application. Traditionally, when a permit faces opposition, the board sends the issue to its review committee.

The only real decision was how long to leave the file open. The board decided two weeks was enough time and then sent it to the review committee.

The review committee meets Friday, April 7, at 8:30 a.m. at County Government Center, Union.

After review, the plan board is scheduled to vote on the CUP at its April 18 meeting.