FRANKFORT, IL — Southern Charm Venues in Frankfort can resume holding weddings and events after Will County Circuit Judge John Anderson ruled in favor of the venue in a lawsuit between the business and the Village of Frankfort.
Judge Anderson dismissed all four counts of the Village’s complaint and vacated a temporary restraining order from last fall in a ruling on Thursday. The four complaints filed by the village included operating a business in an agricultural zoning district, operating a business in the village without a license, opening private property to the general public for consumption of alcohol without a liquor license and common-law nuisance, according to court documents.
According to the business’ attorney, John Partelow, the business can now resume weddings immediately at its venue at 23504 S. Harlem Ave.
“The lawsuit came after the Warnings had been providing their pole barn for parties, gatherings and other special events for more than sixteen years, without complaint or interference from the Village, and after the Warnings had completed more than $140,000 in fire alarm, sprinkler and life safety upgrades demanded by the Village,” according to a release from Partelow’s office.
In defending the Warnings, Partelow claimed that the Village violated its own annexation agreement and were attempting to unconstitutionally enforce its own ordinances in a bid to shut down the business.
“We are delighted and thankful that we will now be permitted to once again offer the area’s premier barn wedding venue to excited brides from all over the Chicago and south suburban area, free from any more interference from the Village of Frankfort,” Terri Warning, president of Southern Charm, said in a release.
The court’s order states that no additional permit or zoning change is necessary since the village agreed, in the annexation agreement with the Warnings, to allow the existing uses. At the time of annexation in 2003, court documents state that the village was allowing wide latitude in permitting landowners to maintain existing uses of their property as an incentive to annex into the village.
“The Warnings initially and repeatedly advised the village and its representatives that a condition of their agreement to annex into the village was that they would be allowed to maintain their existing uses of the property, including the dual use and purpose of the pole barn,” according to court documents.
“We are extremely grateful for the hard work and diligence put into resolving this case by Judge Anderson in such a timely manner. The relatively quick resolution of this matter most certainly saved this cherished south suburban business for the benefit of the residents of Frankfort and the greater south suburban community. And tonight, twenty couples are breathing a sigh of relief that their dream weddings can proceed as scheduled,” Partelow said in a release.