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Community raises concerns over continued Engedi wedding venue operations

(7/8) No new special event permits have been applied for by a local wedding venue, according to a Frederick County zoning official.

County Zoning Administrator Larry Smith told the News-Journal July 8 that he has received no new applications for temporary county outdoor activity permits from Engedi Estate, located at 15014 Sixes Bridge Road, a farm that has been functioning as a wedding venue.

Engedi Estate is owned and operated by Bert & Debbie Newcomer, Mount Airy, and was denied a special exception by the Frederick County Board of Appeals on March 27, 2014 that would have otherwise allowed for the proposed country inn to operate as a wedding venue in an agricultural zoning district outside of Emmitsburg.

Since that special exception denial, the operation has acquired seven temporary special event permits to hold weddings on the farm, which has triggered numerous complaints from area residents.

Smith stated that the seven weddings represented weddings that had been booked prior to the special exception denial, and were subsequently allowed to be rescheduled under temporary outdoor activity permits.

The zoning administrator said, "(Subsequently) We received numerous complaints from the neighborhood in the area of the weddings. The neighbors have serious concerns with the noise coming from the weddings. They're just not happy with the weddings being held there.”

"I have an issue with the safety, health, environmental standards and concerns of the community which are considered prior to the granting of a special event permit,” Smith stated.

"I would have a difficult time coming to that conclusion (that the events were not detrimental to the surrounding area and that they do not violate the standards),” he said. “Noise is a primary issue."

Debbie Newcomer, told the Frederick County Board of Appeals at the March 27 hearing, "It is very, very, very important to me, as a resident of Frederick County and as a property owner on Sixes Bridge Road, that my neighbors are happy with us. I don't want to be a business owner that is hated by the neighborhood."

The applicants defined the scope of the venue at that hearing as involving the use of the 1,200 square foot home on the property, along with a converted two-car garage/preparation building, and a 50x100 pavilion building. The majority of the property will continue to be used for farming, they stated.

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