Local News

'Party Barn' on Orange farm has neighbors clucking

Posted March 24, 2017 6:49 p.m. EDT

— Some homeowners in Orange County say a party house planned for their neighborhood will ruin their peace and quiet.

Twenty-two acres of land off Morrow Mill Road, west of Chapel Hill, is surrounded by trees, livestock and other farms. It is a serene space, but Kara Brewer and her husband have big plans for their farm property.

The couple hopes to host educational field trips, chestnut roastings and weddings, but their plans have been put on hold.

"We are just getting ready to put down all our flowers now so by the time May, June get here, we have freshly grown flowers that brides then use," Brewer said.

Nearly two weeks ago, the Orange County Board of Adjustment ruled that the land is a bonafide farm, meaning no special events, like weddings, can be held on the property.

"The vast majority of folks that are doing agritourism in North Carolina, and Orange County in particular, are farmers who need to bring in the extra revenue," she said.

"This is not the case. This is the case of a real estate developer coming in with a plan, and when that plan isn't approved, trying to get it approved in a different way," said Laura Streitfeld, with Preserve Rural Orange.

It's a plan that's gone back and forth for the last two years.

Named "The Party Barn" by neighbors, many are not happy about the project in their neighborhood.

"We go up and down these roads with our tractors, and our tractors are slow-moving pieces of equipment. It could create a danger," said Warren Ray, who lives nearby.

But Brewer says the farm is far from what many opposed to it think.

"By us having a chestnut roasting or a wedding, that income that we can make helps us keep going," Brewer said.

They've booked 17 weddings this year. The first one in May.

So the fight continues.

"I'm always happy to meet with anyone and sit down and try to figure out what we can do to address these concerns," said Brewer.

The Brewers say they are waiting for the official decision to come down on paper and will then plan to formally appeal it in Superior Court.