FAIRFIELD — Glashoff Farms in rural Suisun Valley has won permission from Solano County to continue hosting outdoor special events such as weddings and graduations – at least for now.
The Planning Commission made the decision at 11:45 p.m. Thursday by a 3-2 vote. Its ruling can be appealed to the Solano County Board of Supervisors.
Larry and Maria Glashoff own 69 acres on Williams Road in the upper valley, where they farm berries, oranges, walnuts and other crops. They received a permit from the county zoning administrator in May to have special outdoor events there with a couple hundred guests.
That’s in keeping with the county’s agritourism policies, the Glashoffs said at the meeting.
“The events bring people to Suisun Valley,” said attorney Charles Wood, who represented the Glashoffs. “That’s the whole intent . . . what better way to get people into the valley than to hold events in the valley?”
Some rural neighbors said the special events bring traffic to a narrow, dead-end road. It brings thumping, amplified music and public address system announcements that they say are too noisy.
“It’s like having a disco in your house,” neighbor Christopher Pray told commissioners.
More than 60 people attended the hearing and about 20 spoke, some for the permit and some against. The meeting lasted close to five hours.
Maria Glashoff said on Friday that the modified use permit approved by the commission is workable for Glashoff Farms. She said she expects opponents to appeal the issue to the Board of Supervisors.
Commission Chairman Rod Boschee tried to get the two sides to come to an agreement. Lawyers met with their clients to talk over proposals during short meeting breaks.
“If they cannot agree, we’ll just close the public hearing and make a decision,” Boschee said three hours into the hearing.
But the last-minute effort failed, as have previous efforts among the parties.
“We both moved, we both tried to negotiate, but we just couldn’t find a (solution) that would be economically feasible,” Maria Glashoff said on Friday. “So we let the commission decide.”
Conditions include limiting the events to 12 annually. Two events can have 160 to 200 guests, three events 120 to 159 guests, three events 75 to 119 guests and four events 74 or fewer guests.
Glashoffs Farms must get sound-measuring equipment to keep amplified sounds within certain decibel limits. Amplified sound must be turned off by 10 p.m. on weekends and 7:30 p.m. on weekdays, with the exception of some holidays.
Public comments touched on a range of feelings and topics, from pain over neighbors being at odds to accusations of lies and exaggerations to the differences between farmers and those who live in rural areas but don’t farm.
Douglas and Kate Novotny filed the appeal to the Planning Commission on the decision made by the zoning administrator in May.
“Nobody is against being creative about earning income from their family land,” Kate Novotny told commissioners. “We do ask, however, that you do it without harming your neighbors, like the rest do.”
She and her husband moved to Williams Road to get away from the sort of impacts these type of events cause, she said.
Williams Road resident Mike Jones said he didn’t find noise from the Glashoff Farms events disruptive.
“The Glashoffs are an honest, hardworking family trying to make an honest living,” he said.
John Crossley owns an antiques business at Mankas Corner and said the weddings have brought him business. Perhaps traffic concerns could be addressed by having shuttles, he said.
But the tone of some of the comments seemed to bother him. He expressed concern that people will be driving down Williams Road and hating each other. How, he asked, can people get along and help each other?
Commissioners Rick Tubbs, Kelly Rhoads-Poston and Kay Cayler voted in favor of the modified permit. Commissioners Johnny Walker and Boschee voted against it.
Cayler at one point during the meeting noted that the Glashoffs agreed to have 12 events, as opposed to the 18 in the original use permit. Opponents to the permit wanted further restrictions.
“My understanding is the Glashoffs have already compromised to this amount today,” she said.
Boschee on Friday said he wanted an environmental impact report done on the issues of noise and traffic. That would provide more information about possible mitigation measures, he said.
“We don’t have any real, hard data,” Boschee said.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.