County planning board recommends against 'wedding barn'
By Jessie Burchette
A proposal for a first-class wedding barn and events center in Mount Ulla drew high praise from the Rowan County Planning Board but ran into a torrent of opposition from neighbors.
The Planning Board voted 6-3 Monday evening to recommend against the requested rezoning to commercial business industrial for the 3.17-acre tract in the 1200 block of N.C. 801. The property is currently zoned rural agricultural.
Sisters Ashley Harris and Meredith Poore outlined plans for a wood and stone 5,000-square-foot southern-style barn. The facility, named Mockingbird Hill, would target weddings and corporate events.
Harris said their goal is to provide impeccable service in a spectacular service, attracting users from throughout the Charlotte region. She cited the benefit to the county in increased revenue through hotels and restaurants.
Nearly two dozen Mount Ulla residents raised their hands in opposition to the proposal.
James Rollans cited concerns over safety because of the increased traffic and the entrance near a curve. He charged that using a barn-type facility for weddings would make “a mockery of the central structure in a rural area.”
Rollans objected to potential noise and alcohol use, concluding that the facility would be “sterile, phony and stick out like a sore thumb.”
Other speakers raised similar issues.
Scott Correll, whose home is adjacent to the property, questioned whether bartenders and staff would be able to control 200-250 people after consumption of alcohol.
Harris and Poore said bands would play indoors and said they will do everything possible to accommodate the neighbors.
Board member John Linker admitted struggling with the issue, pointing out that if either one of the sisters chose to live on the property, they could build and operate the facility without any rezoning.
“The concept is excellent,” said Vice Chairman Mac Butner. “It’s just not a good fit for Mount Ulla.”
Board member Carl Ford agreed, suggesting that the plan is great but the applicants need more acreage to provide buffering.
The board approved the motion by Butner to recommend against the rezoning. Butner, Ford, Melanie Earle, Barbara Lomax, Edwin Hammily and Chairman Terry Hill supported the motion. Linker, Ann Furr and Mike Caskey voted against.
The board unanimously recommended rezoning of approximately 2 acres at 1680 Long Ferry Road from rural agricultural to commercial business industrial to allow construction of a 20-by-100-foot mini-warehouse.
Robert Harris, who operates an adjacent business, plans to buy the property and build the warehouse.
Both rezoning recommendations will go to the Rowan County Board of Commissioners for final action.