The decision was made March 13 at an appeal hearing held by the board. County Planning Supervisor Michael Harvey was brought into the process to determine whether the property could be classified as a farm.
Barn of Chapel Hill owner Kara Brewer was granted a building permit in June 2016, but that decision was reviewed by the Board of Adjustment in October 2016. A previous special use application was rejected in November 2015.
“The Board of Adjustment determined that the proposed use of the property as a wedding venue constituted a principal land use operation and as such needed the appropriate permit to commence operation,” Harvey said.
Laura Streitfeld, executive director of Preserve Rural Orange, said the nonprofit supports the board’s decision. Preserve Rural Orange provides rural communities with information about the land so residents can give their input on situations regarding rural land and the environment.
“In this case a real estate investor is claiming an exemption from zoning that is intended to benefit farmers with the potential for negative impact on farms and rural communities,” Streitfeld said.
Barn of Chapel Hill owner Kara Brewer still plans to attempt to authorize the barn to host weddings. The board’s decision can be challenged by an appeal to Orange County Superior Court.
“Right now we’re just waiting on the written decision to come back from the Board of Adjustment to figure out exactly what they decided, why they decided it, and then once we get that decision we can certainly appeal,” she said.