Just prior to Tuesday night’s public forum, St. Mary’s commissioners unanimously voted to indefinitely postpone an ordinance which would give wedding venues their own land-use zone type after controversy surrounding the legislation.
The ordinance, which was scheduled to go to a public hearing when the commissioners meet again at the end of the month, will instead go back to the department of land use and growth management, Commissioner Todd Morgan (R) said on Tuesday night while making the motion to postpone the legislation indefinitely.
The proposed ordinance would require farms and vineyards that host commercial weddings to apply for authorization, which would include filing a site plan, regulating sound to certain decibel standards and submitting a plan to do so, notifying properties within 1,000 feet of the venue and sitting through a public hearing with the county Board of Appeals.
On Wednesday, Morgan said the ordinance needs to be revised, preferably after the COVID-19 pandemic, “so we can reach out and talk to people.”
“I do think the ordinance, as it has been proposed, is overreach,” he said, but he would like to see an ordinance which balances the interests of wedding venues, their neighbors and farmers who have complained about the venues taking advantage of agricultural credits while functioning as a commercial venue.
At Tuesday morning’s meeting, Commissioners Eric Colvin (R) and John O’Connor (R) also expressed their distaste for the ordinance, calling it a “business killer.”
“I felt like it was another attack on the noise in the county, which was really non-existent,” O’Connor said on Wednesday.
Calling into a public forum on Tuesday evening, Ted Warren, whose wife, Amy, operates a wedding venue off Church Cove in St. Inigoes, said he believed the proposed ordinance would kill the business.
“We feel the ordinance is unfair, unrealistic and so costly to us that we don’t think we will be able to operate,” he said.