Planning Commission Approves Rustic Venue
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.”
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.
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.