Officials uncertain how to regulate activities at rural B&B, party location
Town of Fredonia officials aren’t sure how to deal with a business proposal originally brought to the Plan Commission last month.
Joanne VanDyck approached the planning body to learn what approvals would be needed for a bed-and-breakfast and reception center at W4907 Hilltop Rd.
The house on the parcel would be capable of handling up to four guests.
VanDyck said she hopes to call the multi-purpose business Joanne’s Hilltop Haven.
“There really is nothing like this in the area. People are looking for places to hold large gatherings, like wedding receptions and reunions,” she said.
“It is a little scary starting up a new business. I wanted to make sure I have the blessing of the community. We want to make sure everything is done right.”
VanDyck said her family has already hosted parties with as many as 500 guests, so she said the property can easily accommodate large crowds.
The agricultural zoning on the property was just one of the complications presented.
“If this was only a bed-and-breakfast, I don’t think anyone would have any problems. That is something that is allowed under the ag zoning, so we could have given you a quick answer,” said Town Chairman Richard Mueller said.
“But because you also want to hold weddings, I don’t know what to do with that.”
VanDyck said all catering would be brought in. There would be no commercial kitchen on the property.
Similarly, serving of alcoholic beverages would be done by the catering service, so no separate liquor license would be needed by the reception business.
The Plan Commission reconsidered the issue last week, after asking for some legal input from the town attorney.
It was suggested that VanDyck be allowed to secure a permit for receptions, provided no permanent buildings are used. Tents would be allowed, as long as they are made of fire-retardant material.
Commission member Robert Lederer, who is also a fire inspector for the Waubeka Fire Department, said he would be satisfied with that arrangement.
“The fire code says bed-and-breakfasts are to be treated like residences, so that inspection would be done by the town’s building inspector not the fire department,” Lederer added.
The idea of hosting large receptions opened another sticky issue with town officials — allowing the outdoor performance of amplified music.
The topic has ignited an ongoing neighborhood debate around the Little Kohler Haus, a bar and restaurant that has begun offering live outdoor music when the weather is nice.
Commission members said if the business is given blanket approval to have amplified music, it could come into play at places like the Little Kohler Haus.
“As soon as it is permitted, you are opening the door to problems,” Supr. Chris Janik said.
Janik volunteered to prepare a draft outdoor music ordinance that could be applied to the reception business as well as local taverns.
Officials worried that allowing unregulated receptions could lead to large, overnight concerts like Town of Belgium farmer Dennis Dahm has held at his property. Those parties have resulted in the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department being called to calm the noise.
VanDyck said she was confident she could live with whatever controls the town imposes on receptions.
“It is not like any party I’ve ever had at the property has gotten out of hand,” she said.
VanDyck said she has already checked with neighbors, and they haven’t expressed concerns about the prospect of a nearby business.
Commission members said they would look into adding reception businesses to the permitted uses within A-1 zoning, although a license may be created to spell out the allowed activities.
VanDyck said she plans on promoting the business at an upcoming bridal fair in Washington County, and hoped town approval would be coming soon.
“You are taking a chance, if the permit isn’t approved,” warned Mueller.
The request will return to the commission in January.