Responsibilities of Freedom
RECEIVED Tue., May 8, 2018
All Gregory George wanted was some peace and quiet. In 2013, the 41-year-old former Texas General Land Office agent and his wife Staci bought a 10.8-acre plot just outside of Dripping Springs, in a development protected by residential-only deed restrictions. Their plan was to build their dream home and start a family. But that dream turned into a nightmare, George said, when his neighbors decided to open up a wedding venue right next to his new home. Now, he spends his days meeting with lawyers, and nights canvassing his property line with a sound meter.
According to George, his neighbor Jani Saliga came over three days before he poured the foundation for his house and told him she was planning to turn her existing home into a wedding venue. George was surprised: His property came with a neighborhood covenant that prohibited commercial business, and he was told by his real estate agent and his title company that it applied to the properties on both sides of his lot. Saliga, however, says she was unaware of any deed restrictions on her property. George went ahead and built his home adjacent to Saliga’s, on the highest point on his lot, sure the covenant would work. Saliga and her husband also proceeded with their plan, turning their home into what is now the Garden Grove Wedding and Event Venue.
When they began to host weddings in April of 2016, tensions escalated between the Georges and the Saligas. The weddings, which George claims sometimes include live bands that play until midnight, occur about 250 feet from his back porch. George and the neighbors who live on the opposite side of the Saligas’ property filed a lawsuit against them and Garden Grove to enforce the residential-only covenant in June of 2016.
By Chris Davis
HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) – The owners of more than 12 acres of land in Hays County, who were recently sued by their neighbors over their occasional use of the house they built as a wedding venue, filed a lawsuit of their own this month against those same neighbors.
A judge ruled last October that Jani and Shon Saliga were allowed to keep renting out their home between Buda and Dripping Springs to host weddings. The couple filed a lawsuit this month against the neighboring property owners who sued them, alleging the neighbors are intentionally disrupting weddings held there.
Jani Saliga told KXAN she originally bought the land and built the home for her and her husband to retire to, and it wasn’t until real estate agents suggested it could be a venue that the pair turned it into Garden Grove. Read more…
‘I’m hostage on my own land’ | Local wedding venue, neighbors in legal battle
“I’m just waiting to be served any day,” said the homeowner.Controversy has filled the air in the wedding capital of Texas.Homeowners in Dripping Springs are fighting a back-and-forth legal battle with a well-known wedding venue off FM 967.
The City Council approved the Mark Black Wedding Venue at 130 W. Concord Circle in Driftwood at its Tuesday March 13 meeting.
Present for the council meeting were Mayer Todd Purcell, Mayor Pro Tem Bill Foulds, Council Member Taline Manassian, and Council Member Wade King. The venue passed by a vote of two to one, with Foulds and Manassian voting for, and King voting against. Not present for the meeting were council members Travis Crow and John Kroll.
After weeks of debate, the Dripping Springs City Council Tuesday approved a permit application for the Mark Black Wedding Venue by a split 2-1 vote.
Council member Taline Manassian and Mayor Pro Tem Bill Foulds approved the agreement, while Council member Wade King cast the lone dissenting vote. Council members John Kroll and Travis Crow were absent from the meeting.
Approval of the Site Development Permit Application for the venue was contingent on adding a note to the Water Quality Sheets regarding vegetative filter strips. Requirements called for a minimum 75 percent vegetative cover before final acceptance of the project and implementing additional cross-sections and details regarding temporary sedimentation ponds to its plans.
Prior to the vote, concerned residents of a neighborhood near the venue packed into Dripping Springs City Hall to voice their discontent. Dripping Springs City Hall Tuesday was at capacity, according to the Hays County Fire Marshal….
…. Muckler said an appraiser told him that, in his opinion, the venue would have no impact on the property values of neighboring properties.
Andrea Lohmeyer with Cochran Engineering said the site is in an area without access to several utilities. She said the facility would likely need a large septic system and a well for water.
The buildings also would need sprinkler systems, she said, which would likely require a holding tank.
Lohmeyer said even with the buildings and parking lot, the Mucklers would maintain the area’s green space and preserve the natural look.
As far as traffic is concerned, Lohmeyer said according to a MoDOT study, Highway OO is only used by 2,108 cars per day. With the venue maxing out at 300 guests, she said the traffic impact of 140 cars a few days a week would be minimal.
Andrew Lammert, an attorney representing Muckler, reminded the board it needs “clear and convincing evidence” to not award the permit. Lammert said, in his view, Muckler meets all the requirements needed to obtain a CUP.
For more than an hour, people stepped forward to address the commission and voice their objections.
Residents living or owning property near the proposed venue expressed a variety of concerns.
“It’s too much, too loud, too long and too (much) light,” said Jerry Wilding, who is concerned about the size of the venue, the size of crowds, noise pollution, light pollution and other issues… Read more…
The first ordinance was to clarify where special events venues, which mostly host weddings and receptions or other private parties, can operate either as an allowable use or as a use by exception.
It’s an important distinction because business owners who want to host special events as a use by exception have to go before the Planning and Zoning Board. That’s a public hearing where public comment is allowed.
“It allows for neighbors to make comments on the impact (to the area),” city Planning and Building Director David Birchim said.
Zoning areas where special events venues are allowable are Commercial Medium One (CM-1) and CM-2. The zoning areas where it is a use by exception are: Commercial Low Two (CL-2), Historic Preservation Two (HP-2), HP-3, HP-4, Residential General One (RG-1), RG-2, Residential General Office (RGO) and RGO-A.
Birchim also reminded the commissioners that the use rests solely with the applicant. It doesn’t transfer with the property should it be sold.
The ordinance has slowly evolved over the course of the past year to deal with what has become a growing business in St. Augustine. The city has been attracting more and more people as a wedding destination, and there is a scarcity of appropriate venues. That’s caused some property owners to start hosting events as the demand increases.
So city politicians and staff members are trying to accommodate the growing business while trying to keep it from causing trouble in residential neighborhoods.
Still, Commissioner Leanna Freeman said she was worried the ordinance might open too many properties to be used as special events venues without must chance to stop it. … Read more…
Update: Owera Vineyards owner Nancy Muserlian said today she is “considering what to do next” in the wake of opposition to the winery’s wedding business, and will give brides booked for this summer the opportunity to cancel their plans. Muserlian said Owera “wants to be a good neighbor.” She said Owera was disappointed that its plan to build a permanent building to house events has been rejected, and will likely move out of the wedding business in the future.
What we reported earlier:
CAZENOVIA, N.Y. — Neighbors say the music is too loud and the lights are annoying and Madison County health officials say there are problems with the water and septic service.
Put it all together, and the future of weddings and other large-scale events at the less-than-a-year-old Owera Vineyards in Cazenovia seems to be in doubt. At least 23 are scheduled there in 2014. Read more…