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EVENT CENTER
 
Local farmers and neighbors pack the Board of Adjustment hearing  on November 9, 2015. The board voted unanimously to deny Kara Brewer's request for a Special Use Permit to build an event venue for weddings on undeveloped land.



 NEWS ARTICLES 

Orange Co. Wedding Venue in Danger of Shutting Down Before It Opens, Chris Williams, Time Warner Cable Spectrum News-Central NC, 3/27/17

Party barn on Orange farm has neighbors clucking, Gina Benitez, WRAL-TV News, 3/24/17

Neighbors continue fight against Chapel hill 'party barn', Justin Quesinberry, WNCN-CBS News North Carolina, 3/24/17

Board of Adjustment says no 'party barn' for Orange County, Ryan Salchert, Daily Tar Heel, 10/25/16

Battle heats up over The Barn of Chapel Hill, Colin Warren-Hicks, Herald Sun, 10/15/16

Party Barn Hearing Ends Without Resolution, Continued to Later This Month, David Hudnall, Independent Weekly, 9/11/16

Residents against construction of event space in southwest Orange County, Shantan Krovvidi, Daily Tar Heel, 10/11/16

The Party Barn: Are Rustic Weddings Destroying a Way of Life in Rural Orange County? David Hudnall, Independent Weekly, 9/14/16

Neighbors file legal appeal in attempt to stop Barn of Chapel Hill, Katie Jansen, Herald Sun, 8/14/16

Barn of Chapel Hill underway despite community concerns, Alyssa Potter, WCHL, 7/20/16

Orange County approves plans for Barn of Chapel Hill farm, venue, Tammy Grubb, Chapel Hill News, 6/8/16

Bona fide farm law worries some in Orange County, Katie Jansen, Herald Sun, 6/5/16


Landowner appeals plans for party barn to Orange County Staff, Daily Tar Heel, 1/27/16


Orange County unanimously rejects the development of a party barn in rural community outside Chapel Hill, Camila Molina, Daily Tar Heel, 11/10/15

 EVENT CENTER DOCUMENTS 

Board of Adjustment Meeting Minutes 11/9/15
Board of Adjustment Hearing Packet 11/9/15


 NC Department of Transportation 

NC DOT driveway permit 2/17/16
Engineering firm response to NC DOT 2/3/16
NC DOT inquiry email 1/29/16

 NC Department of Agriculture, Forest Service 

Forest Management Plan 2/8/16

 USDA Farm Service Agency 

USDA Farm Service Agency Farm Record 5/6/15

 North Carolina statutes 



 ARCHITECTURAL DRAWINGS 

Submitted to Orange County Building Inspections 2/23/16:

A000 COVER SHEET  Feb 15 2016

A100 BUILDING CODE & EGRESS  Feb 15 2016

A101 GENERAL NOTES  Feb 15 2016

A200 FOUNDATION PLAN  Feb 15 2016

A201 FIRST FLOOR PLAN  Feb 15 2016

A202 MEZZANINE PLAN  Feb 15 2016

A203 ROOF PLAN  Feb 15 2016

A204 DOOR & WINDOW SCHEDULE  Feb 15 2016

A205 ADD ALTERNATE PLANS  Feb 15 2016

A206 MECHANICAL ATTIC PLAN & SECTION  Feb 15 2016

A301 ELEVATION  Feb 15 2016

A302 ELEVATION  Feb 15 2016

A303 BUILDING SECTIONS  Feb 15 2016

A401 REFLECTED CEILING PLAN  Feb 15 2016

A402 REFLECTED CEILING PLAN  Feb 15 2016

A403 ADD ALTERNATE REFLECTED CEILING PLANS  Feb 15 2016

A501 WALL SECTIONS  Feb 15 2016

A502 CUPOLA DETAILS  Feb 15 2016

A503 WALL SECTIONS  Feb 15 2016

A504 AWNING DETAILS  Feb 15 2016

S100 STRUCTURAL NOTES  Feb 15 2016

S200 FOUNDATION PLAN  Feb 15 2016

S201 MEZZANINE FRAMING PLAN/DETAILS  Feb 15 2016

S202 MEZZANINE FRAMING PLAN/DETAILS  Feb 15 2016

S501 FOUNDATION DETAILS  Feb 15 2016


Submitted to Orange County Building Inspections 1/5/16 with Building Permit Application:


A000 COVER SHEET

A100 BUILDING CODE & EGRESS

A101 GENERAL NOTES

A200 FOUNDATION PLAN

A201 FIRST FLOOR PLAN

A202 MEZZANINE PLAN

A203 ROOF PLAN

A204 DOOR & WINDOW SCHEDULE

A205 ADD ALTERNATE PLANS

A301 ELEVATION

A302 ELEVATION

A303 BUIDING SECTIONS

A401 REFLECTED CEILING PLAN

A402 REFLECTED CEILING PLAN

A403 ADD ALTERNATE REFLECTED CEILING PLANS

A501 WALL SECTIONS

A502 CUPOLA DETAILS

 

S100 STRUCTURAL NOTES

S200 FOUNDATION PLAN

S201 MEZZANINE FRAMING PLAN/DETAILS

S202 MEZZANINE FRAMING PLAN/DETAILS

S501 FOUNDATION DETAILS

 

P1 PLUMBING SCHEDULE LEGENDS & DETAILS

P2 PLUMBING PLANS

P3 PLUMBING PLANS RISERS

 

E1 ELECTRICAL SCHEDULES NOTES & LEGEND

E2 ELECTRICAL LIGHTING PLAN FIRST LEVEL

E3 ELECTRICAL LIGHTING PLAN MEZZANINE LEVEL

E4 ELECTRICAL POWER PLAN FIRST LEVEL

E5 ELECTRICAL POWER PLAN MEZZANINE LEVEL

E6 ELECTRICAL PLAN UPPER LEVEL

E7 ELECTRICAL RISER DIAGRAM

 

FA1 FIRE ALARM PLANS

M1 MECHANICAL SCHEDULES NOTES & LEGEND

M2 MECHANICAL DETAILS

M3 MECHANICAL PLAN FIRST LEVEL

M4 MECHANICAL PLAN MEZZANINE LEVEL

M5 MECHANICAL PLAN UPPER LEVEL




March 14, 2017--Last night, the Orange County, NC Board of Adjustment determined no weddings or retreats would be permitted at the Barn of Chapel Hill, a $735,000 event center under construction by real estate investor Kara Brewer of Southeast Property Group LLC. This was the board’s third rejection of Brewer’s proposed project in the past sixteen months. Brewer has booked 17 weddings at the unfinished site, beginning in early May.
 
In 2015, when the BOA rejected Brewer’s application for a special use permit for a 4,200-square-foot wedding venue on an undeveloped, wooded 22-acre property, she claimed an agritourism exemption from zoning, which is intended to benefit farmers. The exemption removed the property from local zoning and environmental regulations. In 2016, after county staff rejected Brewer’s application for a building permit, Brewer changed SPG’s corporate state filing describing the business from “Real Estate Investment” to “Farm,” also changing the Barn of Chapel Hill LLC’s business description from “Wedding and Special Events Venue” to “Farming and Agritourism.” 

Under questioning at last night's hearing, Brewer confirmed that while the Barn of Chapel Hill has already booked 17 weddings, no farm events have yet been scheduled. With more than 50 farmers and rural community members in attendance, BOA member Barry Katz noted, “We know a lot about this particular plan, how things came to be. The focus is not on agriculture. You have to have ag to have agritourism.” The board found that while the property has a USDA farm number, weddings at this site would be a nonfarm use of the property, not incidental to farming. The case could set a precedent, protecting farms and rural communities statewide from incompatible, nonfarm uses.

__________________________________________

APPEAL HEARING
 
March 13, 2107 @7:30 pm

Neighbors with legal standing appeal agritourism farm zoning exemption for

Barn of Chapel Hill
Event Center for Weddings
 

Orange County Board of Adjustment  
Whitted Building
300 West Tryon Street, 2nd floor
Hillsborough NC 
map

More information:
Agenda packet
Appeal & Interpretation filing
BOA Appeal Hearing Minutes - October 10 & 24, 2016

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September 14, 2016 

The Independent Weekly:
Brewer of Southeast Property Group LLC pursues plans to build new event center for weddings, uses zoning exemption meant to benefit farmers




Orange County, NC
 Update:  Neighbors appeal building permit
for  Barn of Chapel Hill

August 14, 2016--Neighbors have filed an appeal of Orange County's decision to issue a building permit in June to Kara Brewer of Southeast Property Group LLC. The permit allows SPG to build the Barn of Chapel Hill as a $735,000 utility building, despite the county Board of Adjustment voting unanimously to reject Brewer’s application for a Special Use Permit for an event center for weddings in November 2015.

As reported by Katie Jansen in a new article in the Herald Sun, the appeal "states that under the county’s unified development ordinance, Brewer should have been prohibited from applying for building permits using the same plans that were denied in November." The appellants also request an interpretation of agritourism, noting in the appeal that "SPG is not exempt from zoning because it filed an affidavit suggesting it is operating a ‘farm' and the weddings and events it proposes are ‘agritourism.’"

Jansen's article details two businesses' parallel plans to build new event centers for weddings, each having claimed an agricultural exemption from county zoning on undeveloped, wooded properties located eight miles apart in rural Orange County: the Barn of Chapel Hill, on a 22-acre parcel on Morrow Mill and Millikan Roads; and Lavender Oaks Estate, recently renamed Lavender Oaks Farm, on a 44-acre property on Millard Whitley Road.


more info:


Building Permit 6/2/16

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February 15, 2016--In a review of Kara Brewer's building permit application plans for the proposed Barn of Chapel Hill, Orange County Building Inspector James Baxter's first comment: "Site plan is for a barn and the building plans are for a wedding venue. Rectify the discrepancy it has a direct effect on the review process." The building inspector's plans review lists 19 comments and requires a response to each item. 

After she was denied a Special Use Permit for the proposed $1 million project, Brewer requested an agritourism exemption from county zoning to build an event center on undeveloped, wooded property in southwest Orange County, NC. Brewer is in a dispute regarding the commercial building's design, which borrows heavily from a new event center built in Virginia in 2011. Brewer maintains that the new construction, with recycled barn wood on the interior, will be a restored 19th-century barn.

Missing from Brewer's plans is a detailed floor plan, needed to calculate how many people would use the space and required parking spaces. The inspector also notes that "The occupancy for this building as proposed is A-2 which includes assembly uses intended for food and/or drink consumption including, but not limited to Banquet Halls, Night clubs, Restaurants, Taverns and bars." According to the review, the building's open floor space meets the definition of a night club with an occupancy over 100 people and an assembly space for 300 people, both of which require installation of a sprinkler system for fire protection, an item not included in the $735,000 plans. In building permit application documents, Brewer proposed the event center's assembly primary use as A-3, defined in the North Carolina Building Code as uses "intended for worship, recreation and amusement," including but not limited to amusement arcades, art galleries, bowling alleys, community halls, courtrooms, dance halls (not including food or drink consumption), exhibition halls, funeral parlors, gymnasiums, indoor swimming pools, indoor tennis courts, lecture halls, libraries, museums, places of religious worship, pool and billiard parlors, and waiting areas in transportation terminals. [Section 303, North Carolina Building Code]
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In a Daily Tar Heel news article on January 27, 2016, Chatham County, NC resident Kara Brewer describes the Orange County property where Brewer is pursuing plans for a commercial event center as a "small family farm." Brewer and her attorney have repeatedly requested an "agritourism letter" exempting the business from local zoning.

CURRENT PROPERTY STATUS:
Property: 22 undeveloped, wooded acres
Location: Morrow Mill Road, Orange County, NC
Owner's place of residence: Chatham County, NC
Owner: Southeast Property Group LLC
Residences: 0
Crop production & livestock: 0
Surface water & wells: 0
Farm income & revenue: Unknown

PROPOSED EVENT CENTER:
Cost of building construction: $735,000 (excluding land cost)
Barn elements: bride's room, audio room, portable stage, balcony, food prep area, veranda
Request for county Special Use Permit: Denied
Request for "agritourism" zoning exemption: Pending

________________________________________

 Update:  “Barn of Chapel Hill” business proceeds without Special Use Permit: Kara Brewer requests agritourism exemption and building permit for $735,000 event center    

Board denies Special Use Permit 

Orange County, NC, January 23, 2016--Last November, the Orange County Board of Adjustment voted unanimously to deny a Special Use Permit to Kara Brewer of Southeast Property Group LLC for a proposed event center in rural Orange County. Brewer, who lives in Chatham County, applied for the permit to build the “Barn of Chapel Hill” on an undeveloped, wooded 22-acre property acquired by Southeast Property Group the previous spring. At the hearing, Brewer failed to prove her project would meet three required standards: to maintain or promote public health, safety and welfare; to maintain or enhance the value of contiguous property; and to be in harmony with the area around it.

Request for agritourism exemption

After the Board of Adjustment rejected the event center plans, Brewer and her attorney sent repeated requests to Orange County planners for an “agritourism zoning exemption letter” to clarify the issue for her lender. Responding to requests from Brewer and her attorney, county planning staff did not grant Brewer an exemption for the event center, but did note that the bona fide farm exemption does not apply to “the use of farm property for non farm purposes.” Agritourism is intended to benefit farmers, supplementing the revenue of established farms, not to build a commercial enterprise on undeveloped property.

The undeveloped, wooded property acquired by Southeast Property Group has no livestock, crop yields or income from production, making the request highly unusual where there is no established agricultural activity for visitors to experience on the land. According to an article by Katie Jansen in today’s Herald Sun, “Although nothing is planted on the land yet, ‘we are a working farm,’ Brewer said of her farm plans.”

Brewer received a USDA Farm Service Agency farm number for the property in last May, four months before the FSA put stricter guidelines into place requiring proof of farm income and production from landowners seeking FSA numbers. Under North Carolina laws enacted in 2011 and 2013, an FSA farm number is one of five ways to demonstrate “bona fide farm” status. Presenting her plan last summer, Brewer told neighbors and county planners that with the property's farm number, her proposed event center could be permitted as an agritourism business.

Building plans

In early January, Brewer’s contractor applied for a county building permit to construct a $735,000 “Farm event venue,” without having received a Special Use Permit or an exemption for the proposed project. The architectural plans call for a bride’s room, balcony, portable stage, audio room, food prep area, mezzanine, veranda, and a lighting schedule including fourteen 72-inch chandeliers valued at up to $3850 per fixture. Speaking to Herald Sun reporter Katie Jansen, “[Brewer] said the agritourism component of the farm is important to make the farm more profitable,” but the building’s connection to agricultural activities is unclear. While the interior design proposes using old barn wood from New York, the exterior design borrows heavily from a new event center built in Virginia in 2011. 

Farmers oppose plans for “barn”

Southeast Property Group’s 22-acre parcel runs along Morrow Mill and Millikan Roads, quiet country lanes in the Haw River watershed lined with grazing cattle, horses, donkeys, and historic rural residences. Local farmers and residents first heard of Southeast Property Group and Brewer’s proposal last August when they received certified letters announcing an informational meeting and notifying them of the right to oppose the Special Use Permit application. Over 100 farmers and community members turned out at the county hearing in November 2015 to oppose Brewer’s “Barn of Chapel Hill” plans and support neighbors, who made a compelling case for protecting livestock, farm operations and surrounding properties from impacts of the proposed project.

Agricultural community at risk

Brewer’s business, potentially using an exemption meant to help farmers, would have significant adverse impacts on surrounding farm properties and could pave the way for future encroachments into the rural county. Morrow Mill and Millikan Roads see very few cars. The area is a destination on weekends for bicyclists and a haven for extended families spreading across properties dating back to pre-revolutionary land grants from the King of England. Reviewing evidence presented by experts and longtime landowners at the November hearing, Board of Adjustment member Barry Katz described the quiet rural community as “extraordinary.”

Community members are firmly committed to keeping this corner of Orange County rural and peaceful for generations to come. For centuries, local families have run dairies, raised cattle and horses and worked the land, even after losing valued croplands three decades ago to OWASA for Cane Creek Reservoir, and despite recent efforts to locate industrial uses in their midst. For more than two decades, southwest Orange County residents have successfully protected farmland, woodlands and watershed land, effectively stopping large proposed projects including a landfill, UNC airport, waste transfer station, and expanded UNC animal research campus. 

To date Orange County staff has not determined whether Brewer’s proposed “Barn of Chapel Hill” event center building will receive a building permit or be exempted from local zoning.

Stay tuned for updated information on the proposed project.


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