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Questions arise about use of private property for special events



October 04, 2013
MILTON, Ga. — Fortitude Farm owner Jeff Runner applied for a use permit to hold special events at an existing house located on the property, but records show events are already being held there.

"Mr. Runner has applied for a three-part variance for the property," Milton Communications Manager Jason Wright said. "The application is in the initial stages and no decision has been made."

The property, at 13835 Hopewell Rd., is a horse farm with about 10 acres and an additional building called the Yellow House.

"The owner has asked for the deletion of a required fence and a buffer and the time frame required for the permit renewal," Wright said.

Wright said the fence is required, so neighboring homes are blocked from seeing events, but the owner is requesting that it be removed.

"The owner feels the buffer will block the view of the horse farm from the venue," Wright said.

A concerned resident called the paper and said the property owner is already renting out the building and the city is letting him.

"We have researched this issue," Wright said. "And that is not the case."

Wright said the property owner previously leased the property to a woman who then used the home for an event venue without his knowledge.

He said the owner was approached by people who had already paid his renter to use the property for weddings.

"Since he did not receive the money himself, he was within his legal right to have the weddings on the property if he so chose," Wright said. "Any property owner can have a wedding or get together at their home."

Because he didn't receive any compensation for them, no city laws were broken.

In May 2011, the Roswell Childhood Development Association held its annual Down Home Derby charity event at the location, but Wright said that's also within compliance with the law.

"Per code, the property can have two special events per year as long as they were permitted as single use through the city," Wright said.

Wright said Runner received a single use special event permit for that event along with a horse show, held on a different date.

"The horse show one was also monitored by a code enforcement officer to ensure they stayed within the restrictions of the permit," he said.

Runner did not return calls seeking a comment.

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