A West Richland couple's idea to use their serene five acres on a bend in the Yakima River as a special events center for weddings and receptions has been turned down by neighbors and Benton County.
The county Board of Adjustment voted this week to stick by its March 3 decision not to issue a special use permit to Matt and Whitney Baker.
The couple asked for a reconsideration at this week's board meeting.
Their attorney John Ziobro said they intend to appeal the decision to Superior Court.
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The board remained unanimous in refusing to approve the special events center at 113618 N. Harrington Road because there is just one way in and out.
Twenty-three people, most of them neighboring property owners, previously testified against the proposal.
Most were worried about noise coming from events, strangers asking for directions and the facility being inappropriate in an agricultural area.
Some people objected to the potential increase in traffic and risk from drunken drivers on Harrington Road, which is a private road not maintained by the county.
Baker, his next door neighbor and Baker's father testified for the proposed use.
Baker's property has a large gazebo that serves as the special events structure and dance floor, with dressing rooms and other amenities. There is parking for up to 300 cars, but Baker has agreed to limit events to no more than 200 people.
Baker testified he started holding events about a year ago, during summer months on Fridays and Saturdays, not knowing he needed a special permit. There were 13 wedding events.
He said he does not allow live music or hard liquor to be consumed on the property, and he has a 10 p.m. curfew.