Published May 2002
There’s a lot of celebrating going on at Lord Hill Farms now that the events facility has its permanent commercial occupancy permit. But there were a lot of tears, sweat and money spent before the first champagne bottle was uncorked.
“Once you’re done, it’s a great feeling, but the last year has been an absolute nightmare,” said Jaque Remlinger, who, with husband David, owns the 450-acre Snohomish farm that grows pumpkins and hosts weddings, company picnics and other special events.
The nightmare began in July, when one of the farm’s barns, where special events are held, was red-tagged by a Snohomish County building inspector due to safety issues.
At the time, the Remlingers had been in the process of obtaining a conditional-use permit for the facility, which they began using to hold weddings in the mid-1990s to supplement their income.
“It was a shock that we were shut down because we had been going through the process,” Jaque said. “We thought that we were doing everything OK.”
Needless to say, there were a lot of tears as brides-to-be were notified of the late-summer closure — and a lot of scrambling on the part of Lord Hill Farms to come up with an alternative setting.
“Our objective was to make it as best we could for our clients while working within the structure (to obtain the permit),” said David, whose parents operate Remlinger’s Farm near Carnation in King County.
And though a number of clients canceled, many of the wedding parties stuck with Lord Hill Farms, the couple said.
“Most of them helped us,” Jaque said, noting that brides who were having their weddings on the same weekend got together to plan their ceremonies so that they would all run smoothly.
The couple bought tents and poured concrete, and the Snohomish County Fire Marshall issued the Remlingers a special-events permit so that weddings could be held outside.
“It was very nice of the county to let us have the weddings outside, and they were very nice to work with on that,” Jaque said.
In fact, the couple said, the county was helpful throughout the permit process, noting that officials such as Special Project Coordinator John Roney, Building Official Don Sommers, Fire Marshall Pam Miller, and Planning and Development Services Director Faith Lumsden spent many hours working with them.
“What we tried to do was work in partnership with Mr. Remlinger, find a way to keep him operating, by giving him tent permits as needed so that he wasn’t disappointing the people who had contracted with him,” Roney said. “I respected what he was trying to do to get his business up and running and keep it running during a real difficult time.”
“Once we were aware that the facility was inadequate, it was then a question of what do we need to do to get (it) up to grade,” he said.
The answer cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, the Remlingers said, and included:
The renovations took about three months, with family and friends pitching in night and day. The application and review process took longer, with the Remlingers receiving a temporary commercial occupancy permit in February and a permanent permit in late March.
Now they’re looking ahead to summer — the busy season for weddings. But they said this season may not be as busy as in years past because they didn’t have a chance to show the building to prospective clients while construction was under way.
The Remlingers, though, are relieved that Lord Hill Farms is up to code.
“I’m so glad that (we) don’t have to worry,” Jaque said. “I think the hard thing now is they’ll probably have to — all of the farms in the valley (that host weddings and other events) — I’m sure they’re going to have to go through that same hardship, and it’s a terrible hardship.”
“There’s so many facilities that are like this,” he said, "that the county is probably going to be more than willing to work with to get them through this process like they did us, but the process is lengthy and expensive.”
© The Daily Herald Co., Everett, WA