Couple seeks Douglas County’s approval for agritourism event venue; neighbors oppose what they call ‘party barn’
photo by: Douglas County Commission agenda materials
Plans for a wedding venue and agritourism site in rural Douglas County have drawn some concern from neighbors — namely, in regards to increased traffic and potential for issues involving gunfire.
Kyle and Codi Wentzel filed plans with the county to construct a barn-style event venue for weddings, corporate events, family reunions and the like. The couple would also live on-site.
The site, 1173 North 150 Road, is about 12.5 miles south of Kansas Highway 10’s interchange with Iowa Street, or just southwest of U.S. Highway 59 and North 300 Road, near Baldwin City. The venue would accommodate 150 people, and its use would be restricted to weekends.
However, a dozen neighbors signed a letter asking commissioners to decline the request and stating that to the surrounding community, the Wentzels are “simply venture capitalist(s) who are trying to put a ‘party barn’ in a bean field under the guise of the popular phrase, Ag tourism.”
Among concerns neighbors highlighted were increased wear on roads and potential hazards for pedestrians and cyclists due to increased traffic; noise and traffic late in the evening, after which it would take an hour for the dogs and cattle to settle; and the fact that the site is in “gun country” where many landowners have private shooting ranges — hence the “possibility of a ‘ruined’ wedding due to gunfire.”
In a letter in response to the concerns, the couple said they would pay for increased maintenance costs to the road, once the business is up and running, and noted that they have planted trees to help with noise and privacy issues. Guests would be informed about the need to stay on the property and warned that they should expect to hear gunfire, the letter reads.
“We do not want to take away from anyone’s oasis, we simply want to share the natural beauty of the land to those that aren’t as fortunate as the rest of us that have such beauty in their backyards,” the letter reads.
Douglas County commissioners will consider the request at their 6 p.m. meeting, reserved for issues of public interest. Planning staff recommended several conditions should the commission allow the project to move forward.
The Douglas County Commission will meet at 4 and 6 p.m. Wednesday at the county courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St. A complete agenda and materials can be found at douglascountyks.org.
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