Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Olympia Wedding Venue Violated Temporary Use Permit

Above: For a wedding scheduled on August 1, 2015, scores of guests parked at Marathon Park and along Deschutes Parkway, walked across the road through oncoming traffic, then crossed the railroad tracks, seen here, to reach their destination at the Grande Terrace. 

By Janine Gates

Grande Terrace on Capitol Lake, a downtown Olympia wedding and event venue, violated the conditions of a temporary use permit issued to operator Bart Zier last August, says the City of Olympia.

The city issued the permit to the properties at 915 and 1007 Deschutes Parkway SE in order to authorize five weddings scheduled for August 15, 16, 22, 29, and September 12.

According to the city’s letter which was sent to Zier yesterday, city staff inspected the property for compliance with the conditions of approval on the Friday before each event.  On each visit, staff confirmed that for each event, the same conditions of approval were violated.

The letter details several violations including the use of Burlington Northern Railroad property during the events, hours of operation and noise violations, lack of provisions for accessible parking, and a lack of written documentation of a current food handler’s permit, conformance of onsite septic requirements, and adequate restroom facilities.

The city was also provided a courtesy copy of a September notice of violation from the Thurston County Public Health Department outlining violations of Thurston County sanitary codes.

In addition, on July 30, work occurred within a known archaeological site that was not reported to the state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP), tribes, and other interested parties. That matter is currently under investigation by DAHP.

“This pattern of violations…together with violations that occurred during the summer of 2014, unauthorized site improvements and construction of a concrete pad in support of a commercial use, unauthorized improvements on railroad property, disruption of the peace and welfare of surrounding residences, and threats to public health – will be given serious consideration by the City should you apply for permits in the future.

“While the City allowed events to take place in August and September out of consideration to the wedding parties and their families, this will not be the case in the future as there are no active approvals for such uses at this time. Be advised that the subject properties used for Grande Terrace are zoned for residential use and are not to be used for commercial purposes. Because you do not have a conditional use permit, any related activities such as marketing and scheduling events must cease immediately,” says the letter written by city senior planner Cari Hornbein.

Above: A staff member directed people and traffic over the railroad tracks and to the wedding site on August 1, 2015.

Prior to the permit issuance, Zier did not have a permit to operate, and continued to market the venue, give tours of the property to interested parties, sign contractual agreements, and accept thousands of dollars from unsuspecting brides and grooms and their families.

Some brides were notified by Little Hollywood in advance of their weddings and were able to get out of their agreements and receive full or partial refunds. One lucky wedding party was glad to switch their event to the Indian Summer Golf & Country Club on Yelm Highway. 

Other wedding parties weren’t so lucky, and were hustled at the last minute to Zier’s other venue, the Grand Holiday Ballroom, on 4th Avenue. 

Above: Scores of guests parked along Deschutes Parkway and nearby at Marathon Park for a wedding on August 1, 2015 at the Grande Terrace venue. As parking nearest the venue grew scarce, some guests parked, crossed over Deschutes Parkway from cars seen here at the top of this picture, and walked the length of the railroad tracks to reach the main road up to the site. 

Video by Little Hollywood also shows a driver doing a U turn on the railroad tracks and resting there for some time after being told by a staff person stationed near the road that there was no more room to park closer to the venue.

For past articles about the Grande Terrace on Capitol Lake, including pictures and stories by upset brides, go to Little Hollywood, www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com and type key words into the search engine.