Guest ranch approved

Published 10:42 pm Thursday, March 20, 2014

A “guest ranch” off Cherry Grove Road North gained approval at Wednesday night’s City Council meeting after plenty of discussion over land rights.

Richard and Janet Goldbach now have permission to continue renting out their restored farmhouse and accompanying barn. They have been holding events there for a couple of years but did not have the required conditional use permit, and the situation had recently attracted the attention of city officials.

The Goldbachs, who live at an adjacent house, have made many improvements to the property, including converting the barn into a game room. The five bedrooms and bathrooms can accommodate about 14 people, but only one group of people can rent it at once.


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Events, such as family reunions and weddings, may occasionally be held there, but only people who first rent the property for the week can host an event.

The arrangement differs from a bed and breakfast because the owners do not prepare breakfast. The Goldbachs’ attorney, Whitney Saunders, compared it to a beach cottage or mountain cabin one might rent.

Nobody spoke in opposition to the project at a public hearing. Two people expressed concerns at last month’s Planning Commission meeting, but Saunders addressed the noise concerns during his remarks.

The Goldbachs suggested that amplified music that is not located in a building will cease at 10 p.m., and that music equipment will be located on a patio facing away from the creek, so that it is not likely to carry across the water. City Council added those conditions to the permit it approved.

The homes are located at least 2,000 feet from Cherry Grove Road North and from the other side of the creek, Saunders said.

City Councilman Mike Duman suggested putting a condition on the permit that the guest ranch cannot operate if the owners are not residing on the property as the Goldbachs currently do. Their supervision and personal investment in the property is part of what makes the concept work, he noted.

A number of his colleagues, however, expressed concerns with that arrangement, including Councilman Roger Fawcett, Vice Mayor Charles Brown and Mayor Linda T. Johnson.

“As far as property rights, I think we’re treading on a space we don’t need to go,” Johnson said.

City Attorney Helivi Holland, as well as Saunders, also noted a whole host of concerns, including how the property would be treated in a will.

Before the unanimous vote, Duman said he didn’t mean to “muddy the waters as much as I did.”

Also receiving the unanimous support of City Council on Wednesday were an amendment to the Bennett’s Creek Square development and a conditional use permit for a church in the development.