CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – A controversial farm and wedding venue in Chapel Hill is now up and running, though the tale is far from “happily ever after” for some neighbors.
Kara Brewer owns The Barn of Chapel Hill, which hosted its first wedding reception Sunday evening.
“Oh, it was fantastic. We were just very excited that everyone had such a nice time,” she said.
It came after years of planning and facing resistance from neighbors who dubbed it “The Party Barn.”
The ability to host weddings at the barn came down just hours before that first wedding Sunday. It followed months of uncertainty.
The Orange County Board of Adjustment previously decided The Barn of Chapel Hill is a bonafide farm where there’s farming happening, but in order for there to be some special events such as weddings, a special permit would have to be issued. The Orange County Planning Department issued the permit Friday and it limits the number of special events to 12 a year.
“We were planning for around 15 to 20 per year no matter what, so I think 12 is fantastic,” Brewer said.
Neighbor Michael Ekholm said noise from Sunday’s reception kept his family up close to midnight.
“We knew that all of the concerns that we had were coming to fruition at that point,” he said.
“You could actually feel it in the floor. You could hear it through the walls. Inside the house you could make out every word of every song that was being played over there.”
A spokesperson for the Brewers disputes Ekholm, and said the music ended by 10:45 p.m. and shuttles then took guests from the property.
Brewer said she had off-duty officers on site and she only allows amplified sound inside the barn and doors and windows are kept shut.
“We do take it very seriously and we are very aware. Like I said, we make sure we’re taking sound readings constantly to make sure that when I step 30, 40 feet from the barn, you can’t hear anything,” she said.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office responded to noise complaints Sunday with a noise meter. The Brewers provided a copy of the incident report to CBS North Carolina which states “there were no readings from the device.”
The sheriff’s office confirmed deputies could not take action based on the device’s findings.
The Ekholm family says the reading was taken after the noise had already quieted down.
Brewer and Ekholm expect the issue to go to court after Brewer appealed the board of adjustment’s decision requiring a permit.