A special event facility cannot be constructed near the intersection of Hwy. 106 and Neese-Commerce Road.
County commissioners voted 4-1 Aug. 5 — with Pete Bond providing the lone “No” — to turn down a request by Deborah Helms for a conditional use permit for an event hall at her house off of Neese-Commerce Road.
Helms said she planned to construct a facility, capable of holding 300 people, on her property to host weddings and corporate events. She planned to encourage people to take vans from hotels in Athens. Helms said she anticipated having an event per month, with multiple events possible in heavy wedding months, such as May and October. She said she planned to have all events shut down by 11 p.m.
One of Helms’ neighbors spoke in support of her proposal, saying she was “excited to hear about it.” But that was not the prevailing sentiment among her neighbors. Numerous nearby Neese residents took the podium Monday to voice concerns about the plans.
“My concern is really the traffic,” said neighbor Thad Jones. “That is truly a bad intersection (at Hwy. 106 and Neese-Commerce Road).”
Many residents shared that fear, saying that adding numerous cars and vans from an event where alcohol is served to the intersection would be a recipe for disaster.
Neighbors worried about noise from big events disrupting quiet country nights and being “something that totally disrupts the ambiance of the neighborhood.” They said water runoff would be an issue. They said the 11 p.m. shut down time would be hard to enforce for weddings. They worried about event participants wandering off the property onto surrounding land.
Commissioners Stanley Thomas made a motion to deny the request, citing traffic safety as a primary concern. Commissioner Mike Youngblood, a firefighter and First Responder, agreed that the Hwy. 106-Neese-Commerce intersection is a bad place to add more traffic.
“I’ve worked fatalities at that intersection,” he said. “Safety at that intersection is my biggest concern.”