Douglas County Commission to consider conditional use permit for proposed rural event center

photo by: Chris Conde

The Douglas County Courthouse is pictured in September 2018.

A family hoping to open an event center on their rural property will try for a second time to earn the approval of the Douglas County Commission.

The commission during its next meeting will consider awarding a conditional use permit to Eugene George and his family to build and operate the event center. If approved, the event center — to be named George’s Event Center — would be built on the family’s 80-acre property on 1500 Road, about half a mile north of North 900 Road. The property is located within the county’s urban growth area.

The commission previously considered awarding the permit in August, but voted to defer the request until a later date after several neighbors of the property voiced concerns, such as the event space creating noise in the rural setting.

George, who has used the property for livestock farming, told the commission in August that he wanted to build the event center to make sure he could create a successful business that would keep the rural land in his family for generations to come. His daughter, Brittney George, said she came up with the idea for the event center because she couldn’t find many locations in a rural setting to host her upcoming wedding.

“This is a way I can have my children take over when I’m long gone and keep the farm going,” Eugene George said.

In the second application, the George family proposes the 7,920-square-foot event center would be operated from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. It would allow for a total occupancy of 375 guests.

The event center will also allow for caterers to serve alcohol until 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The family’s original application would have allowed for alcohol to be served until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.

The family also relocated the proposed event center to move it away from a pond on the property. County staff said there were concerns about the pond’s integrity and that it would need extensive work to be viable for the plans. The event center is now located about 1,000 feet away from the pond and no longer considers the pond to be a major feature of the project.

With the proposed changes, the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission recommended the application for approval.

In other business, the commission will consider awarding a contract worth almost $67,000 to Lakeview Excavating Inc. to demolish four vacant buildings at 146 Maine St.

The county is removing the buildings, which are former Lawrence school district facilities, because it plans to build its proposed behavioral health crisis center at that location.

County, health and housing officials recently kicked off construction on the housing portion of the campus, which is directly east of 146 Maine St.

Including the county’s contingency funds, the overall cost of the demolition project is slated at $77,000.

The commission will meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St. Full agendas are available online at douglascountyks.org.


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