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Roosters Barn Cabin denied conditional use request

The Lafayette County Planning Commission ruled the Rooster’s Barn Cabin is being used as a commercial space and denied the request to grant a conditional use for events as a residential space during the commission’s Monday night meeting.

Scott Michael, owner of Rooster’s Blues House on the Square, owns the cabin and barn, which has been rented out for private parties. Michael built the cabin, located off of County Road 100, around 2005 and used it as a secondary residence until he began to rent it out in 2008 on VRBO.com as a short-term rental. In the years following, Michael would rent the cabin and barn out for private gatherings that were “invitation-only,” per Michael’s attorney Mitchell Driskell.

“We think that this use is entirely appropriate and fitting for the land and the area where it is,” Driskell said.

Since October, Michael has been speaking with the planning commission regarding his cabin and barn, following noise complaints and other issues by neighbors. The county requested a site plan for the property, which Driskell argued to the commission on Monday was unnecessary in his opinion and predated the zoning that occurred in the area.

The commission’s stance was that Michael was running a commercial business in a structure that was zoned for residential use. After the site plan had been submitted, the following week an event was held and a violation citation was issued due to the plan pending approval.

“As to (the property) not being commercial, it became commercial the minute he took money for use of the place,” commissioner TJ Ray said. “That made it commercial and it had to have a site plan approved.”

The commission asked Michael if the cabin and barn were in his personal name or under an LLC, and Michael stated he was “98 percent” sure it was managed through an LLC, which would make it a commercial property.

Over a 12-month span, Michael noted only two parties had been held at his property. The commission responded with stories they had been told by neighbors of traffic flow issues with cars being stuck on the county road due to inability to access the gate to get onto the property. Ray also mentioned a man who was seen passed out on the road by a couple who were on their way back to their home. No further information was provided regarding that incident and Michael said he was unaware of it himself.

After a near 50-minute discussion on the issue between the commissioners, Driskell and Micheal , Jean Abrams asked to speak. Abrams, along with her husband Randy who was also in attendance, own and run Colonel’s Quarters at Castle Hill in Oxford. Abrams’ stated that she believes what  Michael is allowed to do – having private parties, some including minors who are allegedly drinking alcohol with any regulations – is cutting into her business as well as that of other special event venues in Lafayette County.

“It puts places like Castle Hill, The Jefferson, The Lyric, all of us that do it the legal way, it hurts us,” Abrams said. “That a fraternity can pay (Michael) a certain amount of money to have an event out there and then they are able to bring the liquor in. They’re going to go toward them instead of somebody like me that owns Castle Hill. Because they want the underage people to be able to drink, they want to bring the beer. …If he wants to go through the process and get resort status like we have, that’s fine and great. Put us on the same level playing field.”

The commission decided to view the cabin and barn as commercial space and did not grant the conditional use request. Michael can make an appeal of the decision and the issue can be brought in front of the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors during one of their future meetings.