A plan for developing a field along Newberry Road just west of Jonesville includes a yoga center, nature trails, greenhouses, petting zoo, play areas and an events and food truck venue.
Property owner Shabnam Rumpf, an agent for Ecovibe, LLC, presented the concept as part of the application for a special exception process to Newberry’s Planning and Zoning Board on Feb. 7.
According to the application, the 4.27-acre parcel located west of Fort Clarke Missionary Baptist Church was amended to allow for Special Events Centers in Agricultural zoning districts on Jan. 24.
A request for a Special Exception to allow for the development of a small-scale Rural Event Center on land zoned Agricultural was then submitted.
According to Newberry’s Rural Event Centers 4.4.5 code for permissible special exceptions, “Small-scale rural event centers related to agricultural uses, agritourism, wedding venues, and/or wellness retreats to include but not limited to recreation, entertainment, and/or educational experiences, and accessory uses such as associated sales of agricultural products grown on or off premises, beer gardens, farm-to-table cafes, food truck plazas, outdoor health and wellness activities.”
Rumpf told the board that she and her family moved to Gainesville in 2014. She studied architecture and was inspired by gardens in London that her family visited.
She describes her idea for the property as creating, “An outdoor living room bringing people into the space to eat, play, be creative and socialize.”
Rumpf said the garden idea became more important to her because the pandemic proved outdoor exercise and socializing to be good for people. She is also basing the plans for the space on the beer gardens in Germany but expanding the experience to involve activities for the entire family.
Rumpf presented to the board that the name “Dear Garden” encompasses the idea of bringing people outdoors like the beer gardens in Europe but including everyone.
She added that there will be space for up to four food trucks, a beer garden, a cafe, a tea house and a stage for events like the ones held at Bo Diddley Plaza in Gainesville and a place for local farmers to gather to sell their products.
Dear Garden would have a multipurpose lawn, covered stage pavilion, petting zoo, market garden, and she would encourage local veterinarians to hold animal adoption events.
A 1/3 mile nature trail for exercising would be open to the public as an “opportunity for morning walks or bringing friends and to go through the path,” she said.
The planning and zoning board made sure to address the noise and light ordinances and put conditions to the special exception that addressed local codes before approving the special exception.
Board member Linda Woodcock said she welcomes the green space and event center.
“I’m very excited,” Woodcock said. “I think this is going to be a real plus in the neighborhood for Newberry.”