By Kristin Rover
Batavia Township Trustees approved a zoning change for a property that will become a new event and wedding venue in the township.
Gary and Gayle Schneider, of Pierce Township, entered into an intent to purchase agreement with the owners of the land located off of Amelia-Olive Branch Road in the township.
Batavia Township zoning consultant Jonathan Wocher presented the case to trustees during their March 10 meeting.
Wocher said the Schneiders are planning to build an event venue called The Barn and Cottages at Hope’s Way, on the approximately 18-acre property.
In addition, Wocher said the Schneiders plan to use approximately three acres of the land to build their own residence.
“The zoning map has only 14 acres of planned development,” Wocher said.
He said surrounding properties include residential zoning as well as industrial across the street.
The Schneiders highlighted what they plan to do with the property, and also presented photographs and diagrams of how the property would appear.
Gayle Schneider said she and her husband have had a dream of creating a place where families can create memories and that they can also open up to organizations and businesses in the community to use.
“It is a very serene property, very peaceful,” Gayle Schneider said.
She said they would like to use the atmosphere to create a unique place in the township.
Gayle Schneider explained the property would include a barn that could be used for receptions, retreats, family reunions or other gatherings. The property would also include a parking area, walking paths, five cottages, a lake, and a swimming pool.
“The cottages are intended for overnight guests with events at the barn,” Gayle Schneider said. “They will also be available if the event center wasn’t being used.”
Gary Schneider said the cabins are designed for short stays, no longer than one week.
He said they have planned for minimalist lighting on the property and also have plans to minimize noise by limiting the hours and volume for music and other sounds.
Several neighboring residents attended the meeting to ask questions and express concerns about the planned development.
Questions raised included questions about lighting, planned security, water drainage, traffic, and noise.
Debbie Westheimer, a neighbor, questioned what could happen with the planned development including the height of buildings, traffic coming from the location, as well as pets and alcohol being permitted.
The Schneiders addressed Westheimer’s concerns and that they will have rules and regulations when it comes to pets on the property as well as alcohol use.
They also said they are considering the use of gates and security cameras for the property.
Westheimer said she hopes the Schneiders will continue communicating with neighbors about how things are going once they open.
She said she is pleased that the property owners have found a buyer for the property.
“I do hope for the best for your property,” Westheimer said.
Sheila Jacobs, another neighbor, said she is excited about the proposed development.
“If a change is going to happen, I would much rather that than 35 homes,” Jacobs said.
Mark Perzel, another neighbor, said he has been pleased with how the Schneiders have handled the planned development.
“They have been very forthcoming and accommodating,” Perzel said.
Perzel said the Schneiders have also made changes to their proposed development after hearing from neighbors.
“A number of considerations and concerns were addressed by the Schneiders,” Perzel said.
After hearing from residents and talking with the Schneiders, trustees approved the zoning change for the planned development.
“I think it is going to be an asset to the community,” Trustee Jim Sauls said. “I appreciate you moving to the community.”
Trustee Randy Perry thanked neighbors of the property for coming to the meeting and working with the Schneiders.
“I like to see the neighbors working together,” Perry said.