Wisconsin village orders Hispanic wedding barn operator to cease operations | State and Regional News

YORKVILLE — A touch of Hispanic culture could be vanishing from Racine County after neighbors persuaded village officials that a wedding barn brought noise and congestion to a peaceful countryside.

The Yorkville Village Board voted Monday night against granting a permit for Rancho La Promesa and its Hispanic-themed wedding celebrations and other musical events.

Barn owner Maria Sandoval and her supporters had voiced concerns about anti-Hispanic attitudes and facing racist slurs from neighbors as they sought to overcome neighborhood opposition.

But members of the Village Board expressed support for neighbors who wanted to shut down Rancho La Promesa because, they said, it was too disruptive in the neighborhood along Braun Road.

Several neighbors opposed the wedding barn Monday night during a joint meeting of the Village Board and Plan Commission to consider issuing a permit for the venue, which began hosting events without the required permit last year.

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Neighbor Martin Haas compared the music and noise to a “megaphone,” saying he and others are disturbed by changes that Sandoval and her wedding barn have brought to a quiet rural area.

“We like the quiet,” Haas said. “We don’t want the development. We don’t want the changes.”


“We don’t want the development. We don’t want the changes.”

Martin Haas, neighbor opposed to permit for Rancho La Promesa

Sandoval, who pledged to make any adjustments necessary to accommodate neighbors, found support among others at the village meeting.

Racine County Board Supervisor Melissa Kaprelian, who represents the area in county government, urged Yorkville village officials to keep an open mind about Rancho La Promesa. Saying that new home construction and businesses development frequently changes a community’s appearance and character, Kaprelian said wedding barns, too, have enjoyed success in similar settings in the area.

Kaprelian described Sandoval and her family as respectable people who are willing to cooperate with their neighbors.

“We’re asking to bring forth diversity. We’re asking not to be stagnant,” Kaprelian said.

Village Board members, however, found that the wedding barn events were too disruptive for neighbors and were too inappropriate for the rural countryside of western Racine County.

The Village Board and Plan Commission both voted unanimously to deny Sandoval’s request for a conditional use permit that would have allowed her to legally continue hosting events on her agricultural-zoned property.

Village Trustee Cory Bartlett compared Rancho La Promesa to a gravel mine proposal that the village blocked a few years ago because of neighborhood opposition.

“This is very, very similar, just a slightly different flavor,” Bartlett said.

Sandoval and her husband, Gerardo Sandoval, purchased a 7-acre farm property five years ago at 14800 Braun Road. The former Milwaukee-area residents of Mexican heritage, who have two college-age children, wanted to live in a more rural area.


“We’re asking to bring forth diversity. We’re asking not to be stagnant.”

Melissa Kaprelian, Racine County board supervisor 

The couple said they invested about $30,000 in converting an old barn into a venue for banquet-style events of up to 300 people. Rancho La Promesa has hosted many weddings and quinceañera parties, which are traditional celebrations for Hispanic girls marking their 15th birthday.

The events began last year before village officials said they started hearing complaints from neighbors about noisy music, heavy traffic, late-night hours and roadside trash.

Neighbors either declined to comment or denied that their opposition was driven by anti-Hispanic attitudes or racism.

The Village Board voted April 11 to deny a permit for Rancho La Promesa, but officials later agreed to reconsider and put the matter up for another public hearing.

Sandoval and her family members appeared Monday night with an attorney, Nick Wanic, who assured village officials that Sandoval was willing to comply with any laws or rules that would allow her to maintain the wedding barn. Wanic said the village’s guidance on the matter had been “unmanageable” and “contradictory.”

“She’s trying,” he said of his client. “She’s trying to build a business.”

Neighbors told village officials that the event venue does not fit into the area along Braun Road. Some questioned what other types of businesses would be permitted, while several said the noise from the weddings and other events was intolerable.

“The noise level is just out of control,” neighbor Vicky Lange said. “It’s too much.”