Wedding venue zoning approved despite neighbours’ noise concerns

ERIN – Town council has approved a zoning amendment to allow a rural wedding venue to continue operating, after being assured noise from the 2nd Line site would be controlled to an acceptable level.

Erin Estate Weddings will now have agricultural exemption status for its business, handling up to 160 guests and 50 vehicles, and providing a facility for outdoor weddings near the Speed River, a sheltered reception area, and bed and breakfast accommodation at the house on-site.

Co-owner Jaime Silk said she was “thrilled” with the Oct. 15 decision, which clears the way for plans to erect a permanent structure, instead of using tents, which will further reduce sound levels.

“We care about our community,” said Silk. “We are very grateful for the opportunity to run this business in our beautiful town and for all those whose have supported us through this process.”

Wellington County planner Curtis Marshall reported the venue is acceptable “as a small scale commercial use under secondary agricultural policies of the official plan”.

The process started in 2018 after the province did away with secondary agricultural zoning in favour of prime agricultural, which is more restrictive. In May of this year, the secondary status was restored, but the amendment process continued for this property.

An environmental impact study found the venue would cause no harm to natural features, and a traffic study found the road and driveway were adequate for the vehicles expected during the Saturday peak time. Both studies were peer reviewed by town consultants.

Marshall recommended a noise monitoring program be required as a condition of site plan approval.

Some neighbours expressed concerns at a public meeting last March regarding noise issues, traffic, the use of tents, the bed and breakfast use, parking, restrooms and impact on farms.

In September a petition from 15 area residents was delivered to the town.

“The noise pollution has a negative effect on our health, including loss of sleep and increased stress levels,” the petition states.

A noise study measured sound levels at different locations and at different times, and the levels were found to be acceptable if the reception tent remained closed.

A review by the town’s noise consultant stated it was not reasonable to expect the tent to remain closed, since ventilation is needed on hot, humid days.

A follow-up report found that sufficient sound reduction can be achieved if specific tent panels are 50 per cent opened, and the speakers are limited to specific levels.

These measures are included in the bylaw amendment approved by council. The county report found no other issues requiring action by the town.

Erin Estate Weddings stated in a letter to neighbours that speaker volumes will be monitored by decibel meters to ensure maximums are not exceeded. All hosts, DJs and performers must agree to adhere to the required sound levels, and the use of horns and bells is prohibited. All audio is to be turned off by 11pm, and all guests are to leave by midnight, the company stated.