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Wedding venue proposed for historic Bryan Mill property meets with challenges from neighbors

While wedding bells may be ringing for some, others are concerned that those bells may make too much noise and those wedding may cause too much traffic.

At its March 11 meeting, the St. Charles County Council heard public comments about a conditional use permit [CUP] request that would allow the use of buildings, structures and open spaces for weddings, receptions and other private parties at the property encompassing 2275 and 2323 Hwy. F, which includes the historic Bryan Mill stone barn.

The property’s owners, Robert G. and Kim Brinkmann, applied for the CUP in order to use about 26 acres of their farm in Defiance as a commercial wedding venue. Also known as the Bryan Mill property, the farm is located near Lindenwood Park.

The historic stone residence at the Bryan Mill property [St. Charles County photo]

The Brinkmanns have previously used the property, including its historic barn and a stone house dating back to the 1840s, to host private parties and other personal events.

“We’ve entertained a lot there,” Robert said at the March 11 meeting. “People drive down there all the time asking if they can get married there, so, why not let them get married there?”

The goal would be for the venue to hold up to 100 events per year with an anticipated 200 persons per event, based on the building’s fire code. Weddings would be held either outdoors or inside the historic stone barn [Bryan Mill], and receptions would be held either in the barn or outside with amenities like music and food provided indoors. The historic residence and other buildings would serve ancillary purposes, including party preparation. Any overnight accommodations on the property would be at the two existing residences and a potential bride and groom cabin in the property’s vineyards, which would only be available during the event.

The eastern parking area at the venue [St. Charles County photo]

Although there are vineyards onsite, the property would not serve as a winery. There also will not be a restaurant component as part of the location.

The Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing on the CUP application at its Feb. 20 meeting, where it received approval for recommendation to the county council with the reservation that no fireworks be allowed on the property. The Brinkmanns verbally agreed to the no fireworks rule. However, four complaints about the proposed permit were documented at the meeting. Some nearby residents cited concerns about both traffic and noise.

In response to the noise concerns, a sound study was conducted by McClure Engineering in February to determine if noise levels from any event on the property would violate county noise ordinances and become a nuisance for nearby residences. The closest house to the proposed venue is 900 feet away, while the closest subdivision is about 2,000 feet to the north.

The report stated that when the music is played at normal listening conditions in the barn was below the legal sound limit at the surrounding property lines.

The report’s conclusion stated, “The sound level from the Bryan Mill venue at a comfortable music listening level will be at or near the background sound level at all property lines and will not exceed 50 dBA. This sound level is less than the St. Charles County Nighttime Noise Code. Because of the low background sound levels in the area, sound from the venue at times might faintly be heard.”

In addition to noise concerns, potential traffic congestion was a concern. Resident Graeme Garvey submitted multiple letters to P&Z and the county council saying that the stretch of Hwy. F from the Brinkmann’s proposed venue to U.S. 94 has “several blind spots” that have created, according to MoDOT, a 217 percent higher crash rate when compared to other adjoining sections of U.S. 94. Garvey also stated that, at maximum occupancy, the venue would create a 48 percent traffic increase on the roadway.

“This was one of the No. 1 concerns [of] the rest of the residents, and it’s mine as well, because the residents that aren’t going down [Hwy.] 94 toward Defiance are going to head up toward New Melle, and when they go up to New Melle, they’re going to pass by my subdivision where myself and my four children, who will be drivers soon, will be transiting,” Garvey said at the March 11 meeting.

He added that the possible presence of alcohol at catered events also was a concern in conjunction with the roadway’s increased accident statistics, and suggested provisions like imposing regulation like requiring event shuttle services or screening drivers.

“Again, I want to state, we’re not here to block, but to make sure that the limitations you [the council] do impose on this facility are done in a way that is sensible and protect us from risk, injury or [damage to] property values,” Garvey told councilmembers.

The CIP is tentatively scheduled to receive its second reading and a possible vote at the council’s March 25 meeting.

Last October, the Council voted to approve a bill that removed weddings and wedding receptions as rural recreational activities in agricultural-zoned areas of the county, therefore determining that each CUP would be decided per venue on a case-by-case basis.

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