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New business more that just a banquet hall

Posted on Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 10:22 am

Lucas, above, at a recent town council meeting.

An aspiring business owner is coming to the Town of Warsaw in an effort to promote health research and attract new merchants.

Mechanicsville resident Sonya Lucas returned to the community where she was “born and raised” to give back in the form of a banquet and eating facility, as well as serve the greater Northern Neck community.

She also hopes through holding events at Wellesley Place, a business for which she is currently seeking an application from the town, she will raise awareness on health issues that are predominant in the region.

“Part of my charitable work is doing events that will sponsor and benefit cancer research,” said Lucas, who lost her best friend to breast cancer.

She added that with her event series, “Party with a Purpose,” she also seeks to benefit the American Heart Association and diabetes research.

Furthermore, Lucas intends, through events at her facility, to bring awareness to organ donors and recipients in the area.

“We have a large number of organ recipients in the Northern Neck area,” said Lucas, an organ donor who had worked with the United States Network for Organ Sharing.

“Everyone of course thinks ‘Oh well that means I’ll have to die to be an organ donor,’” she added with a laugh. “But no…you can be a living donor and bring education to the area.”

Lucas recently applied for a conditional use permit to locate her new business in the shopping center next to 360 Hair Salon near Food Lion.

If her application is approved, Lucas will bring over 15 years of project management and event planning experience to her business.

On Jan. 3, the Warsaw Planning Commission reviewed Lucas’ application and recommended it to go to a public hearing.

One week later, Lucas attended a joint session where town council and the planning commission drafted a definition for a banquet hall in Warsaw’ Development Management Ordinance.

Town officials defined the facility as one that provides rental space to private events ranging from wedding receptions to birthday parties. Allowed functions include catering and dance as well as alcoholic beverages that are in accordance with ABC laws.

Lucas confirmed that her proposed business practices fall in line with the definition proposed by the town.

“I do not find anything adverse in the definition that would preclude me from operating a comparable business and being a good corporate system of the Northern Neck,” she said.

In fact, Lucas appreciated how it was written.

“One of the areas of business I’m interested in is church events to allow them space outside of their four walls to reach the greater masses,” she said, adding in an interview that her business would welcome churches of all denominations.

In addition to her emphasis on planning events for benefits and church functions, Lucas stressed her desire to market Wellesley Place as an expo center for both the town and the Northern Neck.

She envisions the banquet hall gathering related businesses and vendors such as cake makers, event coordinators, local jewelers and dress shop owners into one central location.

“So those who are planning their wedding and thinking about getting married will have the opportunity to do one-stop shopping,” she said.

The public hearing on Lucas’ application will be held Thursday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. in town hall.

In other business, town council and the planning commission officially amended part of Warsaw’s town code regarding an antiquated ordinance was making it difficult for local food vendors to bring their business to Warsaw.

Under the revised ordinance, itinerant merchants are now required to pay $125 every three months, coming into line with state codes.