York County Council has cleared the way for more wedding or corporate event sites to open. Wineries? They'll have to wait.
Council finalized new regulations on event venues Monday night. The decision makes way for new businesses aimed at hosting a wide range of gatherings.
Councilman Robert Winkler said there are "many" sites in the county already hosting weddings, corporate events and the like. The new rules should make it easier for others to follow.
"They're trying to open businesses to do events, and we've been telling them for months now they can't do it, legally, because there is no zoning ordinance that allows them to do that," Winkler said. "That's what we're trying to correct here."
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In recent months, several property owners brought it to county leaders' attention that there isn't a route for opening an event venue. Winkler said two people in his district, covering the western part of the county, have come to him wanting to buy land, but wouldn't do it without the ability to have an event center.
At a closed golf course, a clubhouse could be used to host events, for example.
"Now that the golf course is gone, they've been told they can't do events in that (clubhouse) anymore, legally," Winkler said.
Councilwoman Allison Love, who represents Lake Wylie and Clover, said the county also discussed a barn-to-wedding venue. A property sale has been on hold awaiting word on whether event venues will be allowed, she said.
Allowing wineries is still one vote away, with a final decision likely in July.
Event venues are part of a larger commercial property conversation in recent months. The county is working through whether, where and how to allow wineries, concrete plants and other uses. New regulations about sound violations and lighting requirements have been on the table, too.
"We're kind of rushing through and all this, the lights and the sounds and all that, and I would much prefer to defer on the side of being a little bit careful about this," Council Chairman Britt Blackwell said.
Councilman Michael Johnson said Council can clarify or tweak rules if need be.
"We have businesses that are waiting to open," Johnson said. "Because there are businesses waiting to open up, I see no reason not to move ahead on this."
The new rule
The new event site rule defines the difference between an "event venue" and a "large capacity" event venue. A large capacity allows for more than 100 people. Both are commercial facilities rented to individuals, groups or organizations and used to host weddings, receptions, parties, meetings and conferences. They can be permanent or temporary structures, indoor or outdoor.
The rules don't apply to lodges, civic clubs, community centers, religious facilities or publicly owned sites.
Event venues largely would be allowed only by special exception in agricultural, rural and large-scale business zonings. A smaller event venue would be allowed without a special exception in the business district.
Facilities must have an on-site manager during events. Any outdoor space with the event venue must be at least 200 feet from the nearest residence that isn't part of the site. Aside from parking, outdoor spaces must be at least 300 feet from the nearest residence to operate past 10 p.m. Amplified music must end 30 minutes past sunset.