CHINA: Varneys withdraw application for commercial gatherings; to explore other options

by Mary Grow

Parris and Catherine Varney have withdrawn their controversial application for a permit to allow commercial gatherings and events in their barn at 701 Neck Road.

In a Jan. 9 letter to Codes Officer Paul Mitnik, Palermo attorney Matthew Evans, representing the Varneys, said, “In light of the irrational, to the point of being delusional, opposition to the Barn Venue,” the couple decided to make no additional financial investment in the project.

“Unfortunately, the process has been dominated by a mob mentality,” Evans added.

He wrote that the Varneys will continue to use the barn as a private venue. They have plans for a different use and will apply for appropriate permits.

The Varneys first applied for a planning board permit in September 2016. Neighbors expressed a variety of concerns, arguing that traffic, noise and lights from the proposed activity would disrupt a quiet rural area and create inconvenience and hazards.

Subsequent proceedings involved the planning board, board of appeals and Kennebec County Superior Court.

At their Dec. 2017 meeting, planning board members agreed they needed to begin re-reviewing the application. They had scheduled a Jan. 16 public hearing to give neighbors and other interested residents another chance to comment; the hearing was deleted from the Jan. 16 agenda.

Because China has minimal zoning, commercial development is allowed almost everywhere in town if the developer can meet ordinance criteria. The criteria include traffic safety, lack of adverse effects in adjacent property values and the most discussed in the Varney case, the requirement that the project “will not have a significant detrimental effect on the use and peaceful enjoyment of abutting property as a result of noise, vibrations, fumes, odor, dust, glare or other cause.”


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