Area debates wedding venue

Canyon Run Ranch and neighbor in conflict.

While supporters of Canyon Run Ranch said the wedding venue with a barn on a rural property has helped create memorable “upscale” weddings, some neighbors argued the operation turned their once peaceful country weekends in a “nightmare.”

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The activities at Canyon Run property located off Rangeline Road in the western part of Miami County were the focus of two hearings over more than five hours before the Miami County Board of Zoning Appeals in December and January.

During the meetings, three members of the five-member board heard comments from witnesses for both the business owners Gary and Amy Ward and Kathy Farmer, a neighbor who last summer unsuccessfully asked the county development department to revoke a conditional use permit approved, with specific requirements, in 2014.

The permit said the wedding venue could operate Fridays and Saturdays until 11 p.m. between May and October.

The board also considered a request by the Wards to expand the permit to allow events at the more than 150-acre property throughout the week such as wine tastings, educational field trips, business meetings and charitable events until 10 p.m.

Witnesses speaking in favor of revoking the permit testified wedding activities went beyond the closing time, that music was excessively loud and that people were getting lost finding the location.

“This business has evolved into a living nightmare,” Farmer said. Neighbor Amy Evans said she and her husband worked early on weekends and had to wear earplugs to sleep. “I moved out there for the peace and quiet,” she said.

Supporters of the venue, including neighbors as well as vendors working events, described the business as well run and DJs and others instructed on controlling music volume and hours of operation.

Amy Ward said the business was not “a slipshod operation,” had never been cited by sheriff’s deputies and brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars to the local economy. Neighbor Sam Dewey said, “We have not had any issues whatsoever with the venue. … It’s sad neighbors can’t get along.”

In the end, the board declined to revoke the conditional use permit, but encouraged the Wards and neighbors to work to address concerns, particularly noise. The board members said they thought the business was a good concept but then tabled the request for expanded days of operations for eight months, again to allow time for work on solutions.

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com.