Event Venue Plan In Columbia Sparks Concerns | Mansfield, CT Patch - Patch.com 1

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By Connor Linskey, The Chronicle
January 12, 2022
A proposed event/wedding venue in Columbia has sparked controversy among residents, with many expressing worry about the project’s location.
The Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission will host a public hearing tonight and potentially take action on an application for an event/wedding venue on a 41.33-acre property at 79 Cards Mill Road.
The group submitting the application is Valley Street Investments LLC, with Killingly Engineering Associates LLC, out of Killingly, overseeing construction.
The proposed event facility will hold a maximum of 15 events on a yearly basis with a maximum of 200 guests for each event.
Events will be limited Thursday through Sunday only from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The public hearing and potential vote is part of the regularly scheduled PZC meeting.
The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. via Zoom. The link to the Zoom meeting can be found on the town’s website, columbiact.org.
Columbia resident Carole Williamson lives on Gaulin Road, which intersects Cards Mill Road. She said she is concerned a special permit will have a detrimental effect on the residential area where she lives.
“This application represents an effort to introduce spot zoning for the benefit of one person to the detriment of the whole neighborhood,” she wrote in a letter to the PZC.
Since people often drink at weddings, Williamson is worried individuals will drive under the influence and cause accidents on the narrow, steep and winding roads that service the area.
Williamson said she also worries situations from the venue, such as the increase in traffic and high likelihood of people driving under the influence, will cause home values to decrease.
She also argues the event/wedding venue project goes against the town’s zoning regulations.
“Nowhere in our zoning regulations is spot zoning allowed and if an action is not expressly allowed it is prohibited,” Williamson wrote to the PZC.
She said she hopes the PZC puts this application aside until a thorough review of the effect the project would have on the town is conducted.
Lisa King lives on Scalise Drive in Columbia, which intersects Cards Mill Road.
Like Williamson, she is also opposed to the wedding/event venue.
She said the area where the project is proposed is residential, not commercial.
“This is not a community comprised of businesses unless you’re on Route 66 and, in some places Route 6, which are busy, obviously developed areas for businesses. That’s what they’re for,” King said. “Not this.”
She said she enjoys living in a peaceful, quiet neighborhood and believes the wedding/event venue would disturb that tranquility.
“I want to be able to sit up on my deck at 9 o’clock at night in the summertime and not hear a band and people partying it up,” King said.
Columbia First Selectman Steven Everett will give a statement at tonight’s PZC meeting on how he believes the town should move forward with the project.
“I think their concerns are valid,” Everett said regarding residents’ thoughts on the event/wedding venue. “But again, we need to really look into it and see if we can eliminate or alleviate some of their concerns.”
One of his ideas is to bring in state troopers to help maintain traffic during the venue’s events.
Like Everett, Alex Bothell, a member of the planning and zoning commission, also believes careful consideration needs to be taken when evaluating the wedding/event venue.
“It’s a nice piece of property in a very rural area with narrow roads,” he said. “I think we have to be very careful when we look at it.”
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