Cedar Lake Cellars gets permit for expanded events

Adam Rollins
Staff Writer

Warren County’s Planning and Zoning Commission has approved a new permit for Cedar Lake Cellars to host a broader range of major events and overnight camping for event vendors.

Carl Bolm, the owner of the winery and private event venue south of Wright City, said the expansion of his conditional use permit (CUP) could allow the venue to host a variety of festivals for arts, music and special interests.

“We’ve had the Forest Park Balloon Race contact us, and that’s why I wanted to have a broader net,” Bolm told The Record, adding that other major organizations like the Tough Mudder obstacle race have already been moving events to Cedar Lake Cellars.

“I just wanted to be afforded the opportunity to develop our brand. ... I want to be open to what else is coming at us,” Bolm commented.

Commissioners voted 7-0 to approve the expanded CUP, but added new restrictions to address the concerns of some neighbors.

Five nearby property owners in May voiced their opposition to the loud noise and heavy traffic that comes from Cedar Lake Cellars during the events it already hosts.

“It is unbelievably noisy, everything (they) do. I get to hear the music the entire time they have music playing. ... Our house shakes during Pyromania,” resident Rich Baller said in May.

In response to those and other concerns, commissioners placed an earlier time limit on outdoor music Sunday through Thursday, and restricted the number of major fireworks shows Cedar Lake Cellars can host.

Pyromania, a massive fireworks display in September, has been one of Cedar Lake Cellars’ largest draws for the past few years, and was also a source of significant complaint among opponents. Bolm said the event drew more than 10,000 attendees in 2019.

The planning commission voted to limit such massive fireworks displays at Cedar Lake Cellars to three per year. However, commissioners clarified that small events, such as weddings, can shoot fireworks without counting toward that total if they stay within certain time constraints.

The new CUP also requires Cedar Lake Cellars to move forward with plans to build more access roads to and from its 180-acre property. That will reduce traffic congestion during major events, another concern of neighbors. Bolm said two drives are currently being built off of Highway OO on the south side of the property.

Commissioner Martha Groeper asked if Cedar Lake Cellars should be required to notify neighbors of major events. Representatives said staff are already doing that, and the requirement was not included in the CUP.

Commissioners also debated what constraints to place on the venue’s request for overnight camping. Bolm explained that vendors for major events often want to stay overnight to monitor their equipment, and that no public camping would be allowed.

The planning commission placed a limit of 50 campers on the property, which Bolm said would be more than he needs.

Commissioners spent some time discussing what kind of sanitary services to require for RVs camping at the property. They were split on whether to require the venue to construct a certain number of sewage hookups for the vehicles. Eventually they decided against it, simply ruling that Cedar Lake Cellars’ operations must remain in compliance with state and county sanitary regulations.

Bolm said he plans to work with neighbors to address any continuing concerns they have, and that he had no objections to the permit conditions.

“I can live with these. They’re very fair and consistent with what we’ve done in the past,” Bolm said.


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