The planning commission, during its Monday, May 10, work session, voted unanimously to give conditional approval for a proposed beer garden at Blowing Springs, though it sunsets at the end of the year.
The proposal for a beer garden in the 8.18-acre park came recommended for approval with conditions, including minimum Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant parking and fire marshal requirements, according to a staff report.
Planning commission vice-chair Doug Farner said he was concerned about trash, noise, the presence of alcohol in a public park, and the potential for people to leave the designated areas with their drinks.
"It sounds like a great thing and all that, but I have a little problem with control," he said.
He proposed including a sunset in the conditional use permit's approval to give the city at least one more chance to look at the facility after seeing it in action.
"The POA has to come back to the planning commission each year, or at least next year after they've had a whole season to do this," he said. "We can see how it goes; it may turn out to be absolutely fine."
POA chief executive officer Tom Judson said he's alright with the proposed trial run.
"We plan to be very respectful neighbors with regards to noise; we plan to close at seven at night," he said. "We want to be good neighbors."
While there may be a small number of events with live music, he said the plan is to end them by eight or nine in the evening.
The proposed facility, called the Gear Garden, will be surrounded and topped with plants to help blend it into the existing park, he explained.
Further, the facility will also include non-alcoholic refreshments, he said.
One resident, Tony Barnes, said he lives very close by and he's concerned about the facility, particularly because the ravine often helps carry noise up to his home.
"I can see the blue container from my back porch and, frankly, we bought this house for the peacefulness in the park," he said. "I just don't see this alcohol thing being a positive influence on that."
Sherry Laemmle, a principal broker for Crye Leike Realty, said her office has considered sponsoring community events at Blowing Springs and, while she isn't a beer drinker herself, she sees this as a positive addition to the park.
While it seemed like a new idea at first, she said, after a bit of research, it became apparent trailside beer gardens are a somewhat common feature.
"This is not all that unusual," she said. "It's been tried in other communities."
The commission also approved a conditional use permit for a fireworks stand on McNelly Road, a waiver for a second driveway on May Lane and a lot split and related waiver in the planning area on Miller Church Road.