New Albany News

Zoning board shoots down party barn application

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The Plain Township Board of Zoning Appeals on April 9 denied a conditional-use permit for Douglas and Lorri Wolfe to rent out their barn for weddings and other celebrations.

The board voted 3-0 against the permit after 19 of the 50 people at the hearing spoke in opposition to the application for the barn at 5142 Central College Road.

Jay Herskowitz, Mike Roberts and Ray Spiert voted against the application and Valerie Jorgensen recused herself.

Lorri Wolfe said after the meeting it was too soon to say if she and her husband would appeal the board’s decision.

Neighbors complained about potential noise, traffic, screening and parking issues associated with events at the barn.

Some mentioned the Wolfes’ September wedding as the reason the barn should not be used for similar events.

Courtney Branch of Trumhall Avenue said the noise from the wedding continued until 10:30 p.m.

“In my heart, I don’t believe any buffering is going to take care of any of that,” Branch said.

Agnes Vishnevkin of Braet Road said the rural character and peaceful nature of the neighborhood is threatened by more traffic and the noise that can be caused by a rental venue.

Douglas Wolfe said the family would hire an off-duty police officer to monitor the noise and he and his wife agreed to stop all music by 10:30 p.m. and make sure guests were gone by 11 p.m.

Lorri Wolfe said there would be parking on site but an overflow parking area would be needed. She said she did not want guests to park on neighbor’s streets.

Steven Dunbar of Central College Road, who is a retired police officer, said officers respond to noise complaints by visiting the scene and warning people to stop the noise. If the noise continues, a citation is issued but he said most people ignore the citation because the fines are minimal.

“Issuing a citation does not stop the music,” he said.

Aleta Baird of Treven Way said many of the residents moved to that area for peace and quiet.

“Why are their dreams more important that ours?” she asked.

Keith St. Clair of Treven Way said his subdivision, Upper Albany West, has retention ponds and the homeowners association, which has not yet formed, would be liable if a guest wandered away from the barn and drowned in one of the ponds.

The board went into a five-minute executive session after residents spoke against the project. When they returned, board Chairman Mike Roberts asked if the two sides could meet and come to an agreement about the issue.

Residents asked the board to make a decision and they voted to deny the use.

The board of zoning appeals initially heard the permit application on March 12 and voted 3-0, with Jorgensen abstaining, to table the application pending more information.

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