Denise Seymour's Chapter 13 repayment bankruptcy was dismissed Monday afternoon, setting up a foreclosure auction on her home and wedding venue property near Oakdale.
"I don't know what I'm going to do. I've lost everything. My cars are being repossessed," Seymour said Monday after the hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Modesto.
Seymour said she also could lose her business, My Little Balloon Co., which she has operated for 22 years. The company does decorative balloon arrangements for parties, proms and corporate events.
Her problems began in 2005 when she purchased property at 8651 Crane Road, Oakdale, and converted it to a wedding venue. Neighbors complained and county officials cracked down on Seymour and a number of other property owners who were holding weddings and other events on properties zoned for agriculture.
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Neighbors said at a recent Board of Supervisors meeting that the weddings on Crane Road caused trash to be strewn in the neighborhood, the wedding music was too loud and traffic was a problem.
The outdoor event businesses formed a group, Stanislaus Outdoor Venue Association, and lobbied the county to allow the wedding venues. They contended that brides want to be married in an outdoor, agricultural setting. Prohibiting the events would drive weddings and the revenue they generate to surrounding counties, the group said.
But county inspectors found building code violations at Seymour's property, including substandard wiring and some plumbing problems, and red-tagged her property. The county would not issue a permit to fix the problems because the facilities were for an unauthorized use.
She filed the Chapter 13 repayment bankruptcy in May.
The county drafted an ordinance to allow events in the ag zones, but told the group they could not book events for 2008 in the interim. That left Seymour with no proof of a future revenue stream to satisfy the bankruptcy court, and her petition was dismissed Monday.
Seymour told The Bee in September that she had invested $700,000 in the business.
She vowed Monday to continue to fight for the other venue operators. The draft county ordinance is so restrictive that none of the current venue operators would qualify, Seymour said.
The outdoor venue group plans to appear before the Board of Supervisors tonight to protest the ordinance, Seymour said.
In the meantime, Seymour said she had friends she can stay with and would not be homeless.
"I'm hoping I don't have to move before Christmas," she said.
The Board of Supervisors meets at 6:30 tonight in the basement chambers at 1010 10th St., Modesto.
Bee staff writer Tim Moran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2349.