Update, April 22: North Hall will soon be home to a new agri-entertainment venue.
Sixty-four acres of 4585 Mount Vernon Road will be turned into the Bennett Farm and Barn after the Hall County Board of Commissioners approved a request from Margaret C. Bennett at an April 22 meeting.
District 3 Commissioner Shelly Echols, who made the motion to approve the request, added a condition of a three-strikes rule for noise complaints with fines climbing up to $1,000 and revocation of the owner’s business license on a third offense.
Chris Riley, who spoke at the meeting on behalf of Bennett, said that Bennett wanted to build the venue to bring a “needed entertainment venue” to North Hall and to give their middle son, who is diagnosed with Down syndrome, a venue that can teach “valuable life skills.”
In her application, Bennett said events would take place on the weekends, ending at 10 p.m. Riley requested to switch event hours to the county’s ordinance for agri-entertainment venues, which states that events can be held no later than midnight.
Karen Bastian, who lives in the subdivision across from the proposed venue said an informal survey of the area found that community members are in favor of the venue.
Update: Margaret Bennett is one step closer to making her 64-acre agri-entertainment venue a reality.
The Hall County planning board voted unanimously to approve a request to turn 4585 Mount Vernon Road into the Bennett Farm and Barn, a venue that would host community events from weddings to special needs events. Bennett owns 66 acres at the address, and 64 would be devoted to the venue.
The ultimate decision lies with the Hall County Commissioners.
The public comment portion of Monday’s discussion included some mixed opinions on the proposal.
Brian Rochester spoke highly of the applicants’ character and said that the venue should be a welcome attraction in North Hall.
“These are the kind of event spaces that make our community a wonderful place to live, to work and to play,” he said.
Seth Barnes, a North Hall resident, said the event venue should be attractive for wedding venue shoppers who have traditionally opted for venues in Dahlonega.
“I think all (my sisters) would have enjoyed being married at this side,” said Barnes. “I have tons of 20-something-year-old friends and they would be looking for something like this, instead of going to Dahlonega.”
Bernie Shelton, a Mount Vernon resident, voiced his opposition to the proposal, citing increasing noise and traffic issues.
“It directly affects us,” said Shelton, who lives across the street from the proposed plot. “There is plenty of noise and traffic in this area already. This will just add to it.”
Bennett stated in her application that weekend events would not go past 10 p.m. However, the county’s zoning ordinance allows events to go until midnight on Fridays and weekends.
Previous story: A picturesque 66-acre tract in North Hall could be more than just a new home for weddings, proms, sports banquets, shrimp boils and special needs events.
“My husband and I have a son with Down syndrome, and it is our dream for him to work after high school at this business,” Margaret C. Bennett said as part of an application to get the property at 4585 Mount Vernon Road approved as an “agri-entertainment” venue.
Her request is set to go before the Hall County Planning Commission on Monday, March 15.
“The mission for this building/business is to provide outstanding service and hospitality during events in a beautiful setting,” Bennett said in her application.
Bennett, who couldn’t be reached for comment, is requesting the venue as a specific use of the property, which is zoned agricultural-residential.
According to Hall County records, the property has a 1,139-square-foot house built in 1959 and other structures, including a garage and “various accessory structures,” according to a Hall County planning staff report.
Operating as Bennett Farm and Barn, the venue would feature a building that would include outdoor and indoor areas for “smaller or larger groups.”
“The inside of the building would have storage rooms with ample storage for chairs and tables,” Bennett said in her narrative of the project. “The kitchen would have space for catering and floral arrangements. The inside of the building would have beautiful wooden beams and aesthetically could be a casual or formal setting.”
Bennett said events would take place on the weekends, ending at 10 p.m.
Hall planning staff is recommending approval of the venue.
The planning board’s recommendation would go to the Hall County Board of Commissioners for a public hearing and final action on April 22.