SPARTANBURG COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – Companies that host barn weddings in Spartanburg County are trying to keep their doors opened.
The topic was back up for discussion during Monday’s council meeting.
“In 2011, I was mowing hay and a girl called wanting to get married in my barn,” recalled Jerry Raines who runs Hampton Road Farms with his wife Jody. “We’ve had so many families come to us.”
Hampton Road Farms is one of several barn event venues in Spartanburg County required to bring their properties up to code. It’s violations they, nor the county were aware of until a complaint several weeks ago.
“The code is making it difficult for them as is,” said Spartanburg County Building Codes Director Jerry Glover. “Staff verified and county records indicated no event venue on the list were permitted or approved by the county.”
After meeting with venue owners and visiting the properties, county staff recommends getting rid of the paved parking requirement.
“Our pavement requirements for parking were just really not realistic in a rural context,” said County Planning Department Director Bob Harkrader. He said the change will be proposed to the planning commission along with a definition for Rural Event Venues.
There’s also the requirement of sprinkler systems, which county leaders said would have to be changed at the state level.
“Those are established by the state under the international building codes,” said county councilman Bob Walker. “We would ask them [delegation] to go forth and say okay we need to look at this. We need to change this class from what’s known as an A2 to an A3, which basically you’d have to have 300 people on site to have to have a sprinkler system. Right now the law states that if they have anything over 100 they have to have sprinklers.”
Officials said those state changes would not go into effect until 2020 at the earliest.
Venues can currently get a 90 day temporary permit for weddings already scheduled, as long as there’s protection from the local fire department and a certificate of insurance.
County council voted Monday to require venues to get a registered architect to design the structure for assembly use and submit plans to the county within 90 days of receiving their temporary permit.
“I hope that once we meet again with the officials with the county and with our architect that we can get everything resolved without having to raise our prices,” Raines said. “I do what I can to offer a bride the very best day that she can because that’s supposed to be the happiest day of her life. That’s what I try to do. I can’t just go out there and say this is what my price is going to be to cover all the expensive add-ons.”