Neighbors push back over using barn for weddings

Farm Forum

GRANT, Minn. (AP) – A Minnesota farmer is turning his dairy barn into a venue for rural weddings and other gatherings, though neighbors have pushed back over concerns about increased traffic, drunken drivers and loud music.

Scott Jordan owns a farm in Grant, about 15 miles northeast of St. Paul. He agreed to let one couple have their wedding in his barn, and it went so well he got an idea, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

“I thought, great, let’s turn it into a business, because the barn isn’t very functional. It was a dairy barn, and I’m not in the dairy business,” he said. “It would be a great way to keep the historic barn, to keep it up and save it.”

But when he applied for a city permit, some neighbors weren’t pleased, Mayor Tom Carr said. They were afraid the events would bring disruption and safety issues.

Residents attended City Council meetings and wrote letters expressing their disapproval. They also hired a lawyer.

City officials eventually amended the zoning ordinance to allow for rural events on agricultural land, but it was only a partial victory for Jordan. The city also imposed 32 restrictions, about twice as many as are included in a typical conditional-use permit.

Some restrictions involved renovating the century-old barn, installing a septic tank and building a gravel parking lot. Jordan said he spent about $300,000 before getting his permit, and wasn’t sure the investment was worthwhile.

“I guess we won’t see until we run the business for a while,” he said.

The one event he held after getting his permit drew no complaints.

The mayor said the idea of renting out barns for weddings was good for the town.

“I think it keeps our rural character,” Carr said. “It fits us.”