Julie Frame hugged her husband, Tim, after learning a livestock auction would not be permitted next to their business, The Barn at Helm.
Wayne County’s Board of Zoning Appeals denied a special exception request for the auction on agricultural land west of the Frames’ agritourism business where they grow flowers and provide event space. Board members decided that allowing the auction facility would substantially harm The Barn at Helm, which is at 5544 Helm Road, and other neighbors south of Williamsburg.
The vote followed about an hour of discussion and public comment during the July 13 meeting. The board spent about two hours on the petition during its June meeting after the issue had been originally tabled from the May meeting.
Between the June and July meetings, a list of requirements, called commitments, was drafted that would regulate aspects of the livestock auction, such as the specific use, manure storage and off-site disposal, drainage, operating hours and notice of scheduled auctions.
The petition requested permission to operate 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, although auctions were planned to begin biweekly, then increase to weekly on Wednesdays. The commitments presented July 13 would permit preparation activity noon to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and auctions 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays, with a maximum of three auctions per week.
During the June meeting, Julie Frame told BZA members the noise and smell from the auction facility would ruin the quiet, relaxing atmosphere customers enjoy when visiting Barn at Helm, driving them away. The commitments did not alleviate her fears.
“We’ll have Wednesday through Saturday hours for folks to be on our farm, and that’s the same as it’s been for the last four summers, and, unfortunately, it’s the exact same days that they’re planning to be open and planning to hold auctions,” Frame said July 13. “None of my concerns about how it will impact my business have really changed any.”
She said the scope of the auction facility is too aggressive.
“I guess I’m asking you to respect the folks that already live there on Helm Road and in the area and say no to this, please,” Frame said.
Three others spoke against the auction facility, while Cindy Rhoades of Milton spoke in favor. She said the county needs an auction facility and that the long hours provide time for animals to be brought in and unloaded, the auction conducted, the animals loaded to leave and site cleanup.
During its previous meeting, BZA members expressed concern about tractor-trailer traffic on Helm Road, and neighbors said trucks navigating Helm’s intersections with Centerville Road to the west and U.S. 35 to the east caused safety concerns. Steve Higinbotham, the county’s director of facilities and development, shared the county highway response that Helm Road is rated for tractor-trailers that can pass each other, but some turns at the intersections would prove problematic for the trucks.
Ultimately, board members decided that the auction facility would negatively impact neighbors more than the members were willing to allow.
A version of this article appeared in the July 19 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.