LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Letter written to the Town of Linn Board on November 8, 2015 by Dick Malmin:
I see from the agenda for the Monday Town Board Meeting that the town supervisors and chairman are being asked to support a county zoning ordinance amendment to include wedding barns in A-1 and A-2 zoning. I’m sure your first question is the same as mine: why is the county zoning Office attempting to circumvent the comprehensive plan process based on one or two applications for a specialty wedding barn business? The county zoning agency must realize that by making wedding barns one of the acceptable uses for all A-1 and A-2, they are violating the very intent of those zoning classifications: to encourage and preserve agricultural uses and “to prevent encroachment of conflicting uses.”
In actuality, a wedding barn is nothing more than a banquet hall in a rural setting. But just because it uses a barnyard theme, doesn’t make a banquet hall in a barn an agricultural business. Also, it doesn’t make sense for the county to offer, and thereby encourage, all our local farms be turned into banquet hall facilities; because by doing so, we’d end up with a glut of wedding barns all competing against one another and spending money needlessly to try to outdo one another for the same business.
According to the information I have, Walworth County presently has just one request for a wedding barn– The Northwind Perennial Farm on Hospital Road. They currently offer their nursery grounds and botanical gardens for wedding services, but they now want to use their barn for wedding receptions, serving food and alcohol, and offering music and dancing. Since this is a unique and special zoning request, it should also be handled exclusively through the comprehensive plan and map change process by the county zoning agency, followed by the appropriate conditional use requirements. In order to give Northwind the zoning use needed to allow their barn to be used as a banquet hall, it shouldn’t require the county zoning office to undermine the current A-1 and A-2 zoning by offering that use to all the other farms in the county without first going through all the steps currently required. The comprehensive plan change process has the benefit of treating each request solely on its merits and will prevent the supply of banquet halls from exceeding the demand.
Therefore, I believe it would be contrary to not only the best interest of our farming community, but all of us living in the Town of Linn for the Linn Town Board to support the county zoning ordinance amendment.
Editor: As reported, Mr. Malmin’s point was well made and the board agreed unanimously.