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Venue for weddings, events and overnight stays gets go-ahead

Venue for weddings, events and overnight stays gets go-ahead

Only $5 for 5 months

An event area for weddings, church retreats and other social gatherings at a 15-acre site on Stapleton Road has been given a green light from the Amherst County Board of Supervisors.

The board unanimously approved a special exception request during its July 21 meeting that allows Peter Traber and his family to use a former church at 2554 Stapleton Road in Madison Heights for events and short-term rental of four existing cabins. The property, on agricultural-zoned land, includes a church, a single-family dwelling and a cemetery.

Melanie Traber, wife of the applicant, said they have children going to Liberty University and the property is a good way for supplemental income for her son and daughter-in-law who will manage the venue.

“This isn’t a money making empire we are trying to build,” Melanie Traber said.

She said she has worked as a funeral home director and still owns a 1980 hearse, emphasizing the family would ensure the cemetery is well taken care of and accessible for any who have familial ties there. “I know the laws on cemeteries better than anyone else,” she told supervisors. “We’re going to take fantastic care of it.”

The former church can hold 100 to 125 people but crowds the venue would draw would be smaller, she said. A comfortable capacity is a range of 20 to 50 and would be capped at 75, according to Traber.

A condition tied with the board’s approval requires a parking attendant to direct traffic for events exceeding 75 people, a measure Jeremy Bryant, the county’s director of community development, previously told the Amherst County Planning Commission is standard for such venues.

The commission recommended approval of the special exception in June. Cynthia Peters, who lives across the road from the site, said during a public hearing the board held, the biggest concern of neighbors is increase in traffic along a narrow road.

“You’ve got to stay on your side. If not you’re in trouble,” Peters said of Stapleton Road.

She said the rural community in that stretch of Stapleton Road is generally made up of farms and residents are “not crazy about a lot of noise.”

“It’s always been quiet. That’s basically why we moved there,” Peters said.

County documents state the maximum number of occupants per unit for overnight accommodation is two adults per bedroom. The Trabers have gone all out in renovating the cabins and are focusing on attracting families whose children are in college, Melanie Traber recently told the planning commission.

She said the family would be good neighbors to the surrounding community.

The property had been used for more than 100 years as a nonprofit methodist church and the cabins and a pavilion was added within the past two decades, according to the Trabers’ application to the county.

Supervisor Tom Martin said he would rather see the property put to use than remain derelict.

“I think it’s important for us to take care of our older, historic buildings,” Martin said.

Reach Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551.

Reach Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551.

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