Letter to The Anderson News — Agritourism, Facts and Questions

In his June 13 opinion column, Editor Ben Carlson of The Anderson News opined on agritourism and Chris and Melissa Hanks’s wedding venue.

These are the facts:

The Hanks’s Conditional Use Permit, dated 6/15/17, describes their business as: Event & Wedding Barn, Agri-Tourism Building in an I-1 (Light Industrial) Zoning District.

The permit reads, during discussion, “Chairman Olszowy recommended that the application be amended to a request for agri-tourism use in an I-1 zoning district. He stated that agri-tourism encompassed many uses,” and then “a motion was made by Jeff Sauer, seconded by Jim Doss, to grant the conditional use permit to allow an agri-tourism use in an I-1 zoning district.”

Fast forward to April 21, 2022. The Fiscal Court’s Agritourism Committee held a meeting. I attended this public meeting and recall a lengthy discussion about agritourism in general and committee members drafting suggested parking language.

The official minutes bear this out, reading, in part: “under Agritourism Parking we want to add 1) For purposes permitted by right under the agricultural district, parking facilities may be located on a grass or gravel lot. 2) For uses permitted under special use permit parking may be either gravel or paved as determined by the Planning Commission.”

Based on these facts, there are obvious questions.

For The Anderson News editor: What was the purpose of your June 13 column? What was newsworthy?

For the Fiscal Court: Has official language been prepared by an attorney? When will this be on the court’s agenda for a vote?

For our citizens: If this were your business, would you be inclined to spend thousands of dollars to pave your parking lot — after years of having it be a non-issue — knowing the rule could change, literally, any day?