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Planning commission recommends approval of Clermont farm venue
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David Gibbs presents a proposal for an event venue on a farm in Clermont to the Hall County Planning Commission Monday, Aug. 19. - photo by Megan Reed

A farm in Clermont is one step closer to being approved as an event venue, after the Hall County Planning Commission signed off on the idea Monday.

Michelle Gibbs has asked the Hall County Board of Commissioners to allow her to use the property at 5586 Ransom Free Road in North Hall as an event venue. Commissioners will hold a hearing and vote on the request at their 6 p.m. meeting Thursday, Aug. 22.

The property has an existing 28,500-square-foot barn that could be used for events like weddings or receptions, according to the application. The planning commission approved the request Monday under the condition that events end by 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends. David Gibbs, Michelle Gibbs’ husband and property co-owner, said Monday that events would be held inside the barn.

Planning commissioner Gina Pilcher was the only member to vote in opposition Monday. Members Chris Braswell, Frank Sosebee and Stan Hunt voted in favor, while member Johnny Varner was absent.

The proposal drew opposition from neighbors, who said they felt the area was not a good fit for an event venue and had concerns about traffic and noise. But Martha King, who lives on a neighboring property, said she supported the idea and didn’t like how the proposal had turned people against each other.

“I have no problem with this barn being here. They’re good people,” King said. “I don’t think they’re here to violate anybody’s space or privacy or sleep.”

This was not the first time a request for an event venue on the property has been heard. Gibbs’ request was first approved by the planning commission in June, but the Hall County Board of Commissioners never voted on it because the application was incomplete. While Michelle Gibbs was applying for the event venue, David Gibbs, the other property owner, had needed to turn in a form disclosing a campaign contribution to Commissioner Shelly Echols.

Then, in July, Gibbs withdrew her application for the 4.6-acre property. The new request approved Monday is different, though—an adjoining parcel was added, making the total property size 9.25 acres.

Neighbors spoke in opposition to the request Monday, saying that although the area had experienced some growth in recent years, a venue that could hold parties or weddings was still going to be a disturbance.

“It’s just not what I want in my backyard,” Sara Bryant said. “It was a horse barn when (the Gibbses) bought it. It was a horse barn when we bought our house. We expected it to stay a horse barn.”

The barn has hosted events previously. In 2013, the event business in the barn was shut down after an anonymous complaint to the Hall County Marshal’s Office. Later that year, commissioners denied a request to rezone the property to planned commercial development.

Clermont residents said Monday that officials should again deny the request to hold events at the barn, saying they had been negatively affected by past events. Some also said they did not believe that Ransom Free Road could not handle the traffic an event venue could bring.

“In a business like that, the multiple people that do have to come in, from caterers to decorators, there’s multiple people in and out,” Beth Powers said. “… These events typically happen when families in our community are at home. This is when our children are out in the street.”

The planning commission approved the request under the conditions that there be a 200-foot undeveloped buffer along the eastern side of the property and a privacy fence on the southern end. Pilcher had first proposed shifting the parking farther from the property line.

The planning commission’s recommendation will go before commissioners, who have the final vote, on Thursday.



Hall County Board of Commissioners

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22

Where: Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville