By Stefanie Jackson – An anonymous writer who claims to be from Wellington Neck recently sent letters to neighbors warning them about John and Linda Cleaveland’s plans for a wedding venue on their property and the potential negative impacts it would bring to the quiet, residential neighborhood.
One of the letters was obtained by Patricia Boyer, who has lived in Wellington Neck for more than 20 years. The letter arrived in an envelope postmarked Richmond, Va.
In place of a return address is a handwritten note that appears to read, “Keep the wedding off Wellington Neck!” More handwriting appears on the back of the envelope, which states, “How will over 100 cars on weekends effect your family? Read inside to see whats happening.”
The one-page letter, dated May 3, is typewritten and accompanied by six grainy, black-and-white photos depicting the long, narrow dirt road that leads to the Cleaveland property and is maintained by John Cleaveland.
“I can’t imagine what it will be like trying to drive out the neck as all those people go in and out and cars are piled up … trying to turn into that little dirt driveway,” the writer stated.
“Lots and lots of guest cars will be on the road but also trucks with food, supplies, tents, maybe portapotties or who knows what else will be traveling in because a wedding place application for up hundreds of people needs a lot of stuff,” the letter continued.
Linda Cleaveland has stated she would like to host between 150 and 200 guests at each event.
When Northampton Senior Planner Kelley Lewis Parks determined how many parking spaces should be provided on the 65-acre property, she estimated one vehicle for every three guests. By that calculation, each event would draw between 50 and 67 vehicles, not counting delivery trucks.
“A lot of residents run or walk dogs on this road every day, what about them?” the writer asked.
“It’s not right to allow (the Cleavelands) to disturb the whole neighborhood just to make money for themselves … their property is listed for sale for $2,500,000 so isn’t that enough money?” the letter continued.
“And what about partying and drinking and driving day and nights on this narrow road … plus drivers unfamiliar with all the spots deer just run across the road out of nowhere here,” the writer added.
At a public hearing held during the Northampton supervisors meeting April 9, Wellington Neck resident Roberta Kellam objected to the Cleavelands’ proposal.
Kellam said the wedding venue would attract drunk and disorderly guests who would possibly vomit, urinate, defecate, or engage in sexual intercourse on her property.
But when the Eastern Shore Post contacted Kellam, she stated, “I did not write the letter.”
Linda Cleaveland said she would like to hold up to 20 or 30 events per year, to which the writer also objected.
“They say 20 weddings from May to October with hundreds of people each so it’s all this for almost every weekend all during the warmer months when we who actually live here and care about the neighborhood are also out and about.”
The writer does not believe a wedding venue fits in with the character of the neighborhood.
“A small bed and breakfast type thing is a good special use for a small neighborhood but not this. A big thing like this should be in a town or on a highway or a place with a wide road suited for plenty of traffic and noise.”
The letter was signed, “Worried On Wellington.”
Before the Cleavelands can host weddings at their home, they must be granted a major special use permit. The Northampton board of supervisors will make its final decision on the matter after reviewing a recommendation from the Northampton planning commission, which will meet again June 12.