Rezoning for wedding venue before City Council for second reading

Published 12:10 am Monday, June 20, 2016

By Amanda Raymond

SALISBURY — A zoning request for a wedding venue will come before the Salisbury City Council for its second reading on Tuesday.

Lori and Michael Dienfenbach are requesting to rezone the 1.5-acre Sacred Heart Catholic Church’s property at 128 N. Fulton St. from an urban residential district to a residential mixed-use district with a conditional district overlay. They plan to convert the property into a wedding venue called The Abbey.

The Refuge currently rents the property and Lori Dienfenbach said she would work with the church to move them off the property if the request is approved.

At its meeting on June 7, the council voted 3-2 on the rezoning, with Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Blackwell and councilman Kenny Hardin voting against the motion to approve it. City Clerk Myra Heard said that since the motion did not get four votes of support, it had to come back for a second reading.

The Dienfenbachs plan to convert the buildings on the property into places to serve the needs of a wedding venue. One building would be converted into a support services center that may include businesses that would support wedding functions, such as a florist or tuxedo rental store. Another of the buildings may be converted into a bed and breakfast in the future.

Lori Dienfenbach has said the venue will bring many out-of-town visitors and revenue into the town. Nearby neighbors have voiced their worries about the noise, parking and businesses that may move into the support services building if the wedding venue fails.

The proposal went through two council committee meetings and a Planning Board committee meeting during which changes were made to the plans, including removal of a rooftop terrace from one of the buildings.

At the June 7 meeting, Hardin said he would vote against the request because the neighbors had made it clear that they did not want the venue in their neighborhood.

Blackwell said the neighborhood may not be able to survive if different businesses were allowed to move in and the venue failed.

On the other hand, Councilman Brian Miller said from a planning point of view, the proposed use of the property was better than other potential uses.

Councilman David Post said the venue might eventually change the neighborhood for the better.

Mayor Karen Alexander concluded the discussion by saying that she believed the use was adaptive and less intensive that it was when Sacred Heart Catholic Church occupied the property.

In other business, the council will:

  • Consider approving the consent agenda, which includes:
    • Amending the fiscal year 2015-2016 financial plan for the Employee Health Care Fund.
    • Adopting a $11,200 budget ordinance amendment to this year’s budget to appropriate Parks and Recreation donations.
    • Adopting a $24,375 budget ordinance amendment to this year’s budget to appropriate donations for the All-America City trip.
    • Approving a 2016 Justice Assistance Grant application for $37,749.
    • Approving an AT&T request to put 125 handholes and 16,358 feet of inner duct in the public right-of-way.
    • Setting a public hearing about a $25,000 Industrial Building Revitalization Grant for Southmark Limited III, LLC at 408 Long Meadow Dr.
  • Consider adopting the budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.
  • Consider adopting an ordinance that would amend the Animals and Fowl chapter and Nuisances chapter of the Salisbury City Code. The amendments relate to the keeping of chickens and roosters, nuisance abatement deadlines and the maximum overall height of overgrown grass and weeds.
  • Consider awarding a $131,500 contract to Downtown Salisbury, Inc. for services in the Municipal Service District for the next fiscal year.
  • Consider a request being made to the Rowan County Board of Commissioners for a $40,000 appropriation for a dog park.
  • Hear public comment.
  • Make appointments to boards and commissions.

The mayor will proclaim the observance of June 26 for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.