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What's new in farm venue's return to Hall planning board
08192019 FARM 1

A previously withdrawn farm venue proposal in North Hall is set to return to the Hall County Planning Commission Monday, Aug. 19.

Michelle Gibbs is asking the county’s permission to be able to use property at 5586 Ransom Free Road for “agri-entertainment” purposes.

“The property is currently developed with a barn that can be used as a gathering place for various social, celebratory or entertainment purposes,” a county document states. “Events may include farm weddings, receptions, public gatherings or similar agri-entertainment uses."

Gibbs’ proposal, which has been opposed by some neighbors saying they were worried about traffic and noise, was first recommended for approval by the planning board in June, but then stalled before going to the Hall County Board of Commissioners as the application was found to be incomplete

Srikanth Yamala, the county’s planning director, said planning staff were waiting on the applicant to turn in a campaign contribution form, which requires the applicant to disclose whether they have donated at least $250 to any local government official involved in the matter.

Gibbs did not know that her husband, David, had made a contribution, and both are the property owners, Yamala said.

Then, in July, Gibbs decided to withdraw the application on the 4.6-acre site, which has a 28,500-square-foot barn and a home that has been approved by the county to serve as a short-term rental. 

“The updated application has an additional adjoining parcel that the Gibbs’ are requesting for parking,” Yamala said last week.

The size of the venue is now 9.25 acres.

Recent twists and turns on the property’s uses aren’t a new issue.

In March 2013, Gibbs’ event business in the barn — including weddings, proms and fundraisers — was shut down after an anonymous complaint to the Hall County Marshal’s Office. 

A request to rezone the property to planned commercial development was denied in June 2013, according to the county. The applicant had requested permission to use the barn on the parcel for special events.

The issue had heated up at that time, with a packed house at the Board of Commissioners meeting.

Attorney Steve Gilliam, representing several of the neighbors, urged the board to reject the application. He said LL Farms continued to operate even though it had been issued citations for not meeting county ordinances.

“They have no certificate of occupancy for that building,” Gilliam said. “That’s deplorable to me.”

Wes Robinson, the attorney representing the Gibbses, said he wanted to clear up a lot of misinformation. He filed a constitutional objection with the county, asserting issues with equal protection and due process. 

"I thought we still lived in America,” he said. “A citation doesn’t mean you’re guilty of anything.”

He said he imagined everyone on the commission had been to an event at a barn that didn't have a business license, operating events exactly like the ones LL Farms held.

Hall County Planning Commission

What: Proposed agri-entertainment venue at 5586 Ransom Free Road

When: 5:15 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19

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