Planners approve ‘guest ranch’

Published 9:11 pm Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Planning Commission on Tuesday approved several rezoning and conditional use permit requests, including one for a “guest ranch” in the Chuckatuck area that could host overnight stays as well as events.

Richard and Janet Goldbach hope to be able to continue to rent their restored farmhouse and accompanying barn that has been converted into game rooms. The property is located on North Cherry Grove Road. They have been holding events there for a couple of years but did not have the required conditional use permit.

Attorney Whitney Saunders, whose family used to own the property, said this is the first such facility in the city and will attract tourist groups to the area. Events cannot be held by the general public, he said — only folks who first rent the property to stay there can then hold an event, such as a wedding.

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“It’s much like a rental you would expect a family to make at a beach house,” Saunders said.

There also is no food prepared for guests on site, meaning the home does not qualify as a bed and breakfast. Saunders called it a “self-catering” arrangement.

Saunders said the property is in a rural area and brought several letters of support from neighboring property owners. But a couple of other neighbors came to the meeting to express concerns.

“I want to know what’s going to go on there,” Kathy Little said, fearing there might be trees cut down or hunting parties on site. Saunders said neither would take place.

Jackie Cherry said there has been a “noise factor” during previous events at the house.

“If I am on my porch, they sound like they’re on my porch with me,” she said. She wondered if the conditional use permit would be reviewed regularly or would transfer with the land when it’s sold.

Some planning commissioners wanted to give the neighbors more time to get together, but a motion to approve came first. It passed on a 5-3 vote, with commissioners Johnnie Edwards III, Ronnie Rountree and Thomas Savage voting in opposition.

Also approved was a rezoning request for Bennett’s Creek Square on Shoulders Hill Road. The developer, Napolitano Homes, requested a reduction in the minimum lot size for single-family homes, which increased the number of such homes from 51 to 74. It passed on a 6-2 vote with Edwards and Jim Vacalis voting against it.

Riverbend Church received unanimous approval to build a new facility in the Bennett’s Creek Square development.

All three of the requests will be considered by City Council on March 19.