Should Scott County allow rural farmsteads and farm wineries to become destinations for large scale weddings and events? If no, tell us why. If yes, what types of restrictions do you support to lessen impact to neighboring landowners and the community at large?
In the past few years, a growing number of rural property owners have requested using their farmstead as a destination to host large weddings and events. Property owners are looking at renting out space as part of a farm winery, or re-using a historic barn or farm buildings if not a winery, to stage weddings, receptions, private parties, or similar types of events. A New York Times News Service article published in 2014 on the growing interest of “wedding barns” across the nation – including here in Minnesota - spoke to why this trend is occurring: “In the Midwest, century-old wooden dairy barns in shades of red and chocolate brown are ubiquitous, but they typically have little purpose of a modern farm: They are expensive to maintain, and their doors are too small for 21st century equipment. Transforming them in cavernous event spaces with banquet tables, dance floors and lofts for mingling has become a new way for their owners to make money.”
Currently, the Scott County Zoning Ordinance does not have set standards for wedding barns and does not allow large-scale weddings at farm wineries. County planning staff are exploring how to allow this seasonal, but more intensive, use of rural properties while balancing the potential impacts to neighbors (i.e., traffic, noise, and parking). Let us know what you think, Scott County -- the Planning Commission will be holding a public hearing on zoning amendments related to farm wineries and wedding barns on May 9.
You can also read the staff report, uploaded on April 25.