Strong Opposition Expressed To Bill To Allow Limited Event Venues In Agricultural Areas

Opponents say it would generate too much noise and traffic.


Frederick, Md (KM) A bill to allow limited event venues on farm property came under a lot of criticism during a public hearing Tuesday night before the Frederick County Council. Most speakers said this proposal would generate a lot of noise and traffic.

Richard Broadbent lives on Sixes Bridge Road in Emmitsburg, near the Engedi Estates, which holds a lot of wedding receptions and other events. “When events have occurred, there has been amplified noise that can be heard a mile away from at our home. Traffic increases by hundredfold during events, and we assume many of the drivers have been drinking for several hours when leaving,” he said.

Catherine Caruco lives in Ijamsville, not too far from Glen Ellen Farms on Mussetter Road. She says this event venue has parties every weekend. “I can hear the music playing inside my house and inside my bedroom. It’s repetitive and the continuous noise that frankly drives you crazy,” says Caruco. “The second you walk out of the door, you can hear everything: what the DJ is saying; what the crowd is screaming; what song is being played. And the music carries on for hours.”

The bill, sponsored by Councilman Tony Chmelik, would allow these limited event venues to open up in area zoned agriculture. The minimum size of the property would have to 25-acres, and must be actively used as a farm. The building or adjacent structure used for events needs to be 150-feet from any adjacent residential lot, and 50-feet from any other lot line. He said this measure would allow farmers to earn some extra income.

Sue Boher also lives on Sixes Bridge Road, and she questioned the requirement that the parcel be at least 25-acres. “The 25-acre lot size is woefully inadequate and the reality would be an open invitation to speculators, who could subdivide large tracts of valuable farmland into smaller parcels for commercialization,” she said. “These are not struggling farmers trying to supplement their incomes. These are opportunists.”

The Council also heard from Debbie Newcomer, who operates Engedil Estates. “The bill would allow a limited number–everybody keeps forgetting that–limited number of events as an accessory, but only with special exception, and concept plan approval,” she said. “This is not a bill that’s going to foster Woodstock-type parties.”

She also said there’s a lot you can do on 25-acres of land. “You can raise livestock on a 25-acre farm,” she said. That brought loud complaints from the audience, leading Council President Bud Otis to pound the gavel and say “let the speaker speak.” Newcomer then said “no respect. That’s all we’ve ever gotten from that neighborhood. So I’m not surprised.”

Councilman Chmelik noted he and his colleagues have received a lot of e-mails in opposition to this legislation. He said the bill will probably be amended before any decision is made.


By Kevin McManus