Farm retreat continues to rankle town officials

Abloom owner given one last chance by Plan Commission to resolve noise issues, get conditional-use permit for wedding barn
Ozaukee Press Staff

Town of Saukville officials told the owner of a farm retreat on Highway 33 that he is “on thin ice” but gave him one last chance to get a conditional-use permit that would allow him to keep operating.

To do so, Dale Stenbroten, owner of Abloom Farm Retreat, must return to the Plan Commission next month with plans to mitigate noise caused by music coming from his wedding barn.

Even if he does, commission members recommended that a letter be sent to Stenbroten officially informing him that he is out of compliance with town ordinances and faces the possibility of sanctions, including fines of up to $100 for every day he operated without a permit.

Stenbroten came to the town a year ago to get a license for a bed-and-breakfast inn and wedding barn at the corner of Highway 33 and Birchwood Road, both of which he was already operating without permits.

To accommodate Stenbroten’s plans, the town changed its zoning for both operations.

As the town worked with Stenbroten on those two issues, however, he continued to operate both the inn and wedding barn without permits,  even though town officials at first told him to stop.

After missing the commission’s August meeting, Stenbroten was there Tuesday as his neighbors, John and Barb Bauer, complained about noise coming from the Abloom wedding barn.

“There’s just this percussion. I have to go inside my house and shut the windows,” John Bauer said.

“Car alarms are going off,” Barb Bauer said.

Stenbroten said he was “shocked” to hear the Bauers’ complaint and said the music being generated was not that loud, adding that he monitors the sound level coming from wedding receptions using a decibel meter.

“It barely registers,”  he said.

Stenbroten also said he shuts down the music at 10 p.m. on weekends, an hour earlier than the town’s new ordinance requires.

“I think it’s a fair compromise,” Stenbroten said.

That remark caused commission member Kevin Kimmes to respond.

“My stomach is turning right now. What about people who bought their home not thinking they would have to compromise,” Kimmes said. “The whole point of a conditional use permit is so the neighbors don’t have to compromise. You’re really on thin ice.”

In July, Stenbroten said he would use decibel meters to control public-address systems and would shut music off an hour earlier than required by town ordinances.

Town Chairman Don Hamm indicated he was ready to deny Stenbroten’s application for a conditional-use permit.

“Here we have somebody who didn’t want to follow the rules, came in after the fact, and now we have a noise complaint,” Hamm said. “I’m struggling to give a permit.

“I have a ‘compromise’ idea,” Hamm said wryly, suggesting the town allow Stenbroten to host corporate events in the barn but ban him from weddings.

“That’s not really a compromise,” Stenbroten said, adding that he couldn’t run his business without hosting weddings.

Hamm suggested that one solution to the noise issue would be for Stenbroten to insulate his barn and install air conditioning.

Stenbroten said he would look into that.

“I’m willing to do whatever it takes,” he said.

Stenbroten said he is hosting another wedding in the next two weeks.

“That is an important wedding coming up on whether this is going to fly,” Supr. Mike Denzien said.



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