A rezoning has been approved for a proposed wedding barn project in Brighton Township.

The Board of Trustees met Monday night and unanimously approved a conditional rezoning from R3 or Residential Single Family to OS or Office Service for the Tandale Nature Barn. Property owner David LeClair is proposing a 3,750-square-foot wedding barn, storage barn, two wedding venue sites and a tree house on the site. There were initially some concerned citizens who live nearby but they are now said to be confident in the project and have provided correspondence to the township announcing support after learning more about it. Many have expressed it maintains the township’s natural beauty and preserves home values – saying its better use of the land than another subdivision and will have a lesser traffic impact. No one spoke against the project at the meeting. Events would typically take place on weekends.

Trustee Lucille Weaire did raise some questions about parking along Old-US-23, noise and alcohol enforcement and stated she would like to see a copy of event contracts once drafted. She commented that although events will mostly be held on Saturdays, it is still a residential area and also expressed a desire to see if parking is allowed on Old- US-23 and perhaps think outside the box there. It was noted during the meeting that event contracts will adhere to state laws and licensed companies with bartenders/servers would be utilized. All township ordinances regarding noise levels will apply and LeClair commented noise should be minimal, with the exception of perhaps organs or acoustic guitar for weddings.

Staff noted some items regarding dumpster requirements, lighting, parking space material and REU assignments. The latter is an outstanding issue that LeClair will be discussing with the township Utilities Committee. It was noted that while aspects of the project are commercial in nature; it is still residential as LeClair resides on the property. Typically asphalt or concrete is required for commercial business and the parking material proposed would be a mix of grass and gravel, instead of a giant parking lot. Supervisor Patrick Michel said he supported having lighting for security but didn’t think dumpsters were the board’s decision to make and felt LeClair could handle that should any issues arise. Michel further stated he didn’t think the board should dictate parking space material, and that his only concern would be to ensure adequate parking and enough spots for guests. Michel was among some staff and board members who toured the proposed site but stressed there was never any violation of the Open Meetings Act and said he’s quite comfortable with the concept in its entirety. He said they also engaged one of the residences backing up to the site, right where the wedding barn will be. Michel said the couple did not oppose the project and rather very strongly supported it and he walked away with a good feeling about the whole endeavor.

LeClair will be bound by the conditional zoning agreement as well as any site plans, which still need to go through the Planning Commission. If the wedding barn were to be approved and later fail after construction, the property’s use would revert back to the original designation. The township does not currently have an ordinance to regulate wedding barns, so the conditional rezoning was pursued to permit the use. It was noted during the meeting that the Planning Commission has been working on an ordinance, which is currently before the county planning department for review. It’s expected to be before the board in October. (JM)