KALISPELL, Mont. - Prosecutors charged a Bigfork woman with a misdemeanor for hosting commercial weddings in her backyard. They claim Alana Myers is breaking zoning laws.
Last July, neighbors started complaining about loud noise and crowds at Ten Arrows Ranch during weddings.
The county apparently found out the owner made money off the weddings and sent a letter notifying Myers to stop.
Myers applied for a special permit so she could rent her ranch to couples getting married, but withdrew that application last year.
Now, NBC Montana learned neighbors are still upset, so county prosecutors have filed charges.
Alana Myers has hosted weddings for a few years.
"I love doing the weddings because I get to meet the most awesome people. I get to help a bride and her family prepare and get ready for one of the most special days of her entire life," Myers said.
There is one problem -- the area is zoned suburban agriculture. To make money off a wedding, Myers needs a special permit, but she doesn't have one.
Myers admits to taking $1,900 from a bride who wanted to rent the ranch.
"Yeah, I shouldn't have done it. It was stupid and I wish I hadn't done it, obviously," Myers said.
Now Myers is facing charges for criminal misdemeanor for violating the zoning law. The documents also show neighbors' complaints for loud noise, large crowds and increased traffic during events.
Neighbors think it is too bad it came to this, but say they're sick of the disturbance.
"I guess my biggest concern is with the traffic -- the volume of traffic out here on the road and the problems that's created. A lot of these parties serve alcohol later in the night, live bands, the noise is horrendous from them," said Dan Demars, a neighbor.
"Noise is the No. 1 complaint, and I would like to point out we are standing right now in front of the ceremony area...Our very closest neighbor lives over 1,000 feet away," Myers said.
Myers says the music is always off by 10:30 p.m. at the latest. When it is playing, she says she takes decibel meter readings, which she claims are always under 55 decibels.
NBC Montana double checked and that's normal household noise.
"They may be able to hear the music, it is low enough that it should not be any more bothersome than a dishwasher or air conditioning running in their homes," Myers said.
It's not just the noise that bothers neighbors; they say they have to deal with people trespassing and littering.
"We pick everything up from beer cans, beer bottles, napkins, party hats, paper towels, just everything that goes with that type of a deal. Anytime the wind blows it just carries out through this field," Demars said.
Myers is scheduled to present an application to the Bigfork Land Advisory Committee for a conditional-use permit to operate the ranch as a high-impact recreational facility.
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