Plan­ning Com­mis­sion Ap­proves Rus­tic Venue

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Lynn Kut­ter EN­TER­PRISE-LEADER

FARM­ING­TON — Farm­ing­ton Plan­ning Com­mis­sion mem­bers were not com­fort­able with a re­quest to re­zone prop­erty on Rheas Mill Road from sin­gle-fam­ily res­i­den­tial to res­i­den­tial-of­fice for a park fa­cil­ity but in­stead opted to give the prop­erty owner a one-year con­di­tional use per­mit, ac­cord­ing to Robert Mann, com­mis­sion chair­man.

Brent Vin­son of Farm­ing­ton last week said his orig­i­nal thought was to seek a con­di­tional use per­mit but he was en­cour­aged to ask for the prop­erty to be re­zoned.

His re­quest be­fore the Com­mis­sion on Feb. 26 was to re­zone 541/555 Rheas Mill Road to res­i­den­tial of­fice so he could use the prop­erty as a park fa­cil­ity, an ex­ist­ing barn as a pav­il­ion and his house as the busi­ness of­fice.

In a let­ter to com­mis­sion mem­bers, Brent de­scribed his plan as a “pri­vate park” that would be a venue for spe­cial oc­ca­sions such as birth­day and grad­u­a­tion par­ties, an­niver­sary din­ners, small wed­dings, fam­ily re­unions, photo shoots and other small gath­er­ings.

The named of his venue is Vin­tage Oaks Gar­dens be­cause of the ex­ist­ing ma­ture oak trees on the prop­erty. The site in­cludes three acres of grassy fields, flower gar­dens, an old dairy barn and an old pi­o­neer wagon.

Vin­son com­pared the old barn to a park pav­il­ion be­cause of its open­ness and be­cause it does not have heat and air con­di­tion­ing or bath­rooms. Vin­son’s res­i­dence, which is on the same prop­erty, would be used as an of­fice for the venue and pro­vide re­strooms, dress­ing fa­cil­i­ties, kitchen and food prepa­ra­tion for any events. The prop­erty also will pro­vide stor­age and a shop area to main­tain park grounds.

The prop­erty is ad­ja­cent to First Bap­tist Church on Rheas Mill Road and Vin­son said he is in the process of get­ting an agree­ment from the church to use its park­ing lot for park­ing for events at Vin­tage Oaks Gar­dens.

Vin­son’s let­ter also said mu­sic would end at 10 p.m. in con­sid­er­a­tion of ad­ja­cent neigh­bors and land­scap­ing would be planned along the perime­ter of the prop­erty to help buf­fer sound. Al­co­hol con­sump­tion would be lim­ited and closely mon­i­tored by a li­censed al­co­hol server. Smok­ing would be pro­hib­ited and only dec­o­rated LED can­dles al­lowed.

Mann said the Com­mis­sion was re­luc­tant to per­ma­nently change the zone for the prop­erty.

“We’re learn­ing over time just be­cause that’s what they say they are go­ing to do (with prop­erty) that doesn’t mean they’ll do it,” Mann said. “This gives us the flex­i­bil­ity to stop it if it’s a prob­lem. This is prob­a­bly the best way to do it.”

Mann said a con­di­tional use per­mit al­lows the Com­mis­sion to give the pro­posal a year and test it to see if it’s go­ing to work.

Mann said he and other com­mis­sion­ers liked Vin­son’s pro­posal for the prop­erty.

“I think it’s a great plan. I think Farm­ing­ton needs some­thing like this,” Mann said. “We’ll see if this is the right lo­ca­tion.”

The other ques­tion, Mann said, was whether a res­i­den­tial-of­fice zone was the cor­rect zone for an event cen­ter or park fa­cil­ity. He said the Com­mis­sion prob­a­bly needs to look at this and create a new zone for such places that are lo­cated out­side a com­mer­cial zone.

The con­di­tional use per­mit is valid for one year and Vin­son will have to ask for it to be re­newed at the end of the year. The Com­mis­sion’s mo­tion, ap­proved Feb. 26, said the per­mit was con­di­tional on a writ­ten park­ing agree­ment with First Bap­tist Church and Vin­son ap­ply­ing for a city busi­ness li­cense.

Vin­son said last week the barn al­ready has been used for gath­er­ings for friends and fam­i­lies and its rep­u­ta­tion as a unique venue has spread to oth­ers.

“Part of the rea­son I bought the prop­erty was be­cause of the barn. I wanted to do some­thing with the barn,” he said.

He said he ap­pre­ci­ates

“We think Vin­tage Oaks Gar­dens will make a nice ad­di­tion to the ex­ist­ing small town charm al­ready in­stilled in Farm­ing­ton.”

Brent Vin­son

Owner of Vin­tage Oaks Gar­den

the Com­mis­sion’s will­ing­ness to let him to try it out as a venue on a tem­po­rary ba­sis and hope­fully, that will con­tinue into the fu­ture.

In his let­ter, Vin­son told com­mis­sion­ers he thought the barn and park land would fill a niche for a smaller, less ex­pen­sive venue.

“Be­ing a fam­ily-run op­er­a­tion, we hope to de­velop Vin­tage Oaks Gar­dens to help show­case ours and Farm­ing­ton’s ru­ral agri­cul­tural roots with the preser­va­tion of the barn and the mem­ory of a more util­i­tar­ian way of life. We think Vin­tage Oaks Gar­dens will make a nice ad­di­tion to the ex­ist­ing small town charm al­ready in­stilled in Farm­ing­ton,” Vin­son wrote.

COUR­TESY PHOTO

The con­cept plan for Vin­tage Oaks Gar­dens is shown here. It in­cludes a barn, of­fice, re­strooms/dress­ing rooms, gar­dens, gazebo, cov­ered pic­nic ta­ble and fu­ture vol­ley­ball court.

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