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.
…. 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…
We received an email full of bracing information. Thank you, Mr. Simanton, for writing to Friendship Alliance. We appreciate your time, and we are grateful for your insights. In full:
Wed, Feb 14, 2018 at 4:06 PM
I was at the Dripping Springs City Council meeting last night [February 13, 2018] to support your efforts to control the development of a large wedding venue in your neighborhood. I had planned to speak if needed, but it seems you had quite a few folks wanting to speak.
But, you may ask, who am I and why do I want to support you and speak out on your behalf? I do not live anywhere near your neighborhood, nor do I really know anyone in your neighborhood other than the nice folks I met at the council meeting.
I want to support your cause because I have painful, first-hand knowledge of what happens when a wedding venue moves into your neighborhood. Two wedding venues opened up near my land. One is next door to my land, the other is a little over half a mile away. So I have experience with both very close and nearby wedding venues. I don’t want others to suffer the way my neighbors and I have.
Here is what you can expect:
1. Noise. Remember those quiet weekend nights where you can sit on the porch and look at the stars, listen to the breeze in the trees, hear the sounds of nature? I say “remember” because you will no longer get to enjoy those nights. Even if the venue close to me is not having an event, the one further away is still so loud we can hear music, yelling, hooting, hollering, traffic, car alarms, arguments in the parking lot, buses backing up, loud bass noise bumping through your bones…I could go on. Again, that place is half a mile from me, over a hill, and it is STILL loud.
Even after we sued the venues to keep all their music INSIDE (the suit is still ongoing) and they have mostly complied, you still get the bass noise, which travels for miles. And of course you get the yelling, the hooting, hollering and general idiocy of drunk city folks out in the country. How many cars will there be? Each one will give you the “beep-beep” or “honk” whenever someone locks or unlocks the vehicle. Buses and trucks will beeep-beeep-beeep when backing up, and some back up for a loooong time. I recorded one that had the backup alarm going for over 5 minutes.
A side note on noise: Like most venues, Mark Black has promised to keep it “under 85 decibels” Why is this? Because 85 decibels is a criminal statute. They THINK that they can legally do anything up to 85 decibels with no repercussions. But noise at 50 decibels 200 feet from our house can easily be heard inside our house, quite loudly. 85 decibels is like someone running a chainsaw 10 feet from your head. It is LOUD. Call them out on this when they mention the 85 db number.
2. Drunks. What do people do at weddings? They drink. A LOT. They get loud. They yell. They hoot. They argue. They fight. They break bottles on the road. And they drive, while drunk, on your roads.
3. Traffic. Buses LOVE to block roads. For some reason, bus drivers think it is perfectly acceptable to load, unload or even park right in the middle of a road. Sometimes they pull a little off to the side so you can get around them, where you cannot see oncoming traffic. Sometimes they park in front of your mailboxes, or your driveway. Or they turn around and run over plants and things on your property…but if you aren’t there to see it and take pictures, you have no proof.
Then there are the hundreds of cars. They tend to drive and park where they please. They love to rev their engines, especially the city kids with 4WD trucks when they encounter any kind of hill. And they are often piloted by people who have been drinking. Don’t let your children go anywhere near the roads on weekends. Don’t jog or walk your dogs along the roads on weekends. And hope your animals don’t ever get out of the fence.
4. Strangers. I think this actually bothers me the most. What good is a neighborhood and knowing your neighbors when HUNDREDS of complete strangers are allowed to invade your neighborhood each week? They don’t care about your neighborhood. They litter, make noise, destroy property and then have the audacity to yell at you to be quiet when you try to mow your lawn on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
And they trespass. We have good fences, signs and gates, yet we still have “adventurous” wedding guests come on our land and even try to get in our house. Maybe they do just want to “pet the donkeys”, but in my experience, city folks have little respect for rural property. Sheds and cabins on our property seem to be a magnet for bored wedding guests, often of the teenage type. (Admittedly, I was probably like this when I was a teen boy, so I know how they are.)
I could probably come up with even more reasons to fight a venue nearby, but I think this is enough. Note that these are only 150 person (next door) and 250 person (1/2 mile away, over a hill) venues. I cannot imagine how disturbing a 600 person venue would be. You have my sympathy, and you have my help if needed. …Please share this email with the Friendship Alliance, you may post it on your web site if you wish. If possible, have someone read at least an excerpt from the list above to help convince the council to delay the permit until Mark Black et al has addressed all of these issues. I’m convinced that there are probably good wedding venues that do respect their neighbors, but my experience is not proof of that.
You can never get your peace back once it is gone.
I wish you the best.
Dripping Springs, TX 78620
Originally printed here:
Regarding the article: Protests grow as wedding venue sets to open in residential area
My advice to Friendship Alliance is: stop them; stop them at all cost.
We live in a residential area where several years after we moved here a wedding venue was quietly built right next to our property. We also heard the same kind of rhetoric from the owners about community concerns and operating the venue on a low-key basis with strict rules. Once they were established, it became obvious there was very little concern for the residents. Their focus was to grow the business.
Now, delivery and trash trucks are frequent, busses park near our property and continuously run through the event duration. Litter along the roads has increased. Noise levels are no longer monitored and “supposed” restrictions are not enforced. Most importantly, residential property values fell. No one wants to live next to or near a wedding/event venue!
Michael & Mark Black say they are giving “heavy” consideration to community concerns but the article in the News-Dispatch raises serious red flags about their intentions.