Frankfort Wedding Venue Can Hold Last Weddings Of Season

FRANKFORT, IL — A Frankfort wedding venue is allowed to finish out its last weddings of the season after a judge stayed a temporary restraining order filed by the Village of Frankfort.

Attorney John Partelow, who represents Southern Charm Venues, told Patch the venue is allowed to finish its last weddings (on Oct. 17, Oct. 24, Oct. 31).

The Village of Frankfort first filed the injunction against Southern Charm Venues, a “barn wedding” venue, in Will County Circuit Court in April. The injunction names business owners Terri and Jerry Warning, among several others, as defendants in the case.

According to court documents, the land owned by the Warnings at 23504 S. Harlem Ave., was annexed into the village in 2003. The documents state the property is zoned as AG-agricultural district, but Southern Charm “is doing business” at the property.

According to Southern Charm’s website, the business hosts weddings at the property on Harlem Avenue.

Partelow told Patch the owners bought the property in 1998, and when they were annexed into the village in 2003, the existing uses in the annexation included the pole barn, where events are held. The venue has been operating for years, but has gotten more popular since 2016.

Court documents state the Village was made aware of Southern Charms operating at the Harlem Avenue property. Members from the Village Building Department and the Frankfort Fire Protection District conducted an inspection in September 2019.

“Thereafter, a fire and life safety inspection report was prepared which noted safety violations at the subject property,” documents read. The inspection also confirmed that the Village had not issued a license for the operation of a business.

Documents state that Terri Warning submitted an application for a general business license and a food-related establishment license on Nov. 8, 2019.

According to the injunction, the application was denied on Nov. 19, 2019, as the business is not permitted in the agricultural district.

In December 2019, Terri Warning sent an email to the Village stating that the business would continue to operate without a business license.

Court documents also state that “no evidence” has been showed that the violations from the inspection have been remedied, and the village also believes alcohol is being made available for consumption at the property.

Partelow told Patch the owners did over $140,000 worth of improvements, including a sprinkler system to remedy the violations.

The injunction notes that indoor recreation and entertainment, outdoor recreation and entertainment, catering service, and indoor business sales and services are not permitted in the agricultural district.

The temporary restraining order was granted after the court found that the defendants “are in violation of the Code of the Village of Frankfort” by operating a business without a license.
The temporary restraining order restrains the defendants from “engaging in any activity” at the property without complying with Village ordinances. According to court documents, the business cannot use the property as a wedding rental venue or event space.

Partelow said a special use permit has also been filed for the business, and it is currently pending.

A future court date has not yet been set.

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