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County board to rule on special use for Deer Grove business

December 16, 2018

DEER GROVE – The Whiteside County Board will take action Tuesday on a special-use petition needed for a new business planned at the former Sandy Pine Elk Farm.

The county’s Planning and Zoning Commission, on a 5-to-2 vote, backed the request from Jim Henrekin, owner of the property at 28650 Hahnaman Road near Deer Grove.

Sandy Pine was a popular agritourism destination until it was closed nearly 10 years ago. Henrekin and his wife, Sandy, want to convert the building into a special events venue. The building is zoned for business, but the surrounding land still has an agriculture designation.

The special-use permit is needed before the Henrekins can use the land on the north and west sides of the building for parking and tents. The area, about 2.5 acres, could accommodate nearly 200 vehicles.

Sandy Henrekin told the commission that she plans to host no more than one event each weekend, April through October. The building is being looked at by an engineer to determine what work needs to be done to comply with county building codes.

Special-use permits are usually give with the stipulation that certain conditions be met, and any future changes to the property must again be brought before the commission.

The commission determined that those conditions have been met. They include plans to ensure there will be adequate utilities, drainage, access roads and landscaping.

An important component in this particular situation was to measure the impact the business would have on neighbors.

One of the closest neighbors, Gary Schultz, voiced his objections to the business plans during the commission meeting. He told the panel that he moved to the country 30 years ago for peace and quiet, and he feared that the venue would be too noisy.

Sandy Henrekin reminded the commissioners that there would be only one event a week and the receptions would be inside the building with the windows closed. Food and alcohol would be brought in by the wedding party or a licensed caterer and the venue would close at midnight.

Another condition was that the events be held on Fridays or Saturdays.

The commission, in its written decision, determined that if the property is in compliance with all county building codes, granting the special use shouldn’t be detrimental to neighboring properties or their residents. Noting that a business had previously been at the site, the panel ruled that the business is compatible with the county’s comprehensive plan.

Because the property is within 1.5 miles of of Deer Grove, the village can submit its opinion on the petition, but officials sent a letter stating it had decided not to formally review the request.

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