Mar 25, 2015 7:52 PM by Brian Johnson
Donna White said contrary to popular belief, she's not rich.
But she said she does work hard to host 25 weddings every year, for the last 10 years.
But now that Butte County has passed a special events ordinance for venues like hers on county agriculture land, work may have just gotten even harder.
"Not one of us at all doesn't want to get a use permit," said White. "Our biggest objection was the tremendous overload of requirements and they're vague, like you don't know where it stops and where it starts. We don't where the money stops, where it starts, [and] it could go tremendously expensive when we would just be forced to close."
The good news is, she'll be able to host the events she's already booked for this year.
But past that, she has real concerns about whether she'll be able to handle the added costs that will come with the permit fee-which will be thousands of dollars itself.
"I may need a noise study, I may need a traffic study, I may need a dust study," White said. "That determines whether you can stay open. Can you make enough money to pay for all these things you might have to do? That's scary."
While White wonders where these costs stop, Butte County Farm Bureau Director Coleen Cecil believes the new county law may actually stop the spread of these types of businesses.
"It's when does it stop?" Cecil said. "And how many events and venues are going to take place in the ag zone and maybe become a challenge for someone who is trying to farm next door?"
And that's how it began, Cecil said-one bad apple causing disturbances.
To her knowledge, venues like The Palms and White Ranch haven't done anything wrong-that's why they feel unfairly targeted.
They said they don't get complaints, and do everything the county asks of them.
But now, they say the county has stepped outside its bounds.
"We wanna do what they say," White said. "I see the need for it, we're just questioning this open ended power that you're giving somebody who really doesn't know anything about running a wedding venue."
Chico's Shaffer Ranch said their future is even more uncertain because of this, and will have to wait and see whether they can continue to stay open after 10 plus years of hosting weddings and 40 plus years of doing community events.