The Gilbert Town Council reversed Thursday a decision from the planning commission to grant a conditional use permit to the Elegant Barn wedding venue to serve liquor at events hosted there.
The Council voted 6-1 against granting the permit after hearing from the venue's neighbors about their noise, traffic and safety concerns. Council Member Victor Petersen was the lone vote to uphold the Planning Commission's finding.
Elegant Barn, located at 1221 N. Greenfield Road in Gilbert, is located in a residential neighborhood, and council members indicated that fact weighed on their decision. Liability and enforceability concerns also were voiced among council members.
The venue's owners, Dennis and Stella Elliott, indicated they have lost $2.6 million in business because they are not allowed to serve alcohol, which puts them at a competitive disadvantage with other wedding venues in the area.
Supporters also testified how closely Dennis Elliott polices the property during events to ensure they are not creating problems for neighbors.
The neighbors opposing the permit said the Elliotts have broken their original agreement with the neighborhood by seeking to remove their original stipulations.
They also said the Elliotts were dishonest about how much money they had lost in business and that the Elegant Barn could not be compared with other wedding venues because the other venues are all in commercial zoning.
The planning commission had granted the conditional-use permit on stipulations that alcohol only be served between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. and that an additional professional security person would have to be used during events serving alcohol to control traffic on Houston Avenue.
The opposing neighbors, however, argued that Houston Avenue could not accommodate the additional traffic without jeopardizing the safety of families living there.
Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent more than 30 years in journalism in Arizona and joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2018 to launch the Gilbert edition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he served as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2005-19 and remains editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.