City updates code to allow rural event centers
If someone wants to get married in a barn, the city of Rosemount isn’t going to get in their way.
Before last week, the city didn’t have an ordinance that would have made it possible for a farm to start an event center business.
The Rosemount City Council approved a text amendment during a meeting last week to allow event centers on agricultural property in rural Rosemount.
The changes were inspired by a request the city received about someone who wanted to use a barn for weddings and other events.
“The potential owner felt that they could convert that barn into a public space,” said Kim Lindquist, Rosemount community development director. “It had some appeal by its size and location for weddings but also graduation parties and other kinds of events.”
The city didn’t have any ordinance appropriate for this kind of use.
Lindquist said city officials reviewed regulations at Cottage Grove and Lake Elmo, which have seen interest, particularly with historic structures, for this type of use.
It was approved, but several of the 19 conditions were discussed during the meeting.
Mayor Bill Droste felt like the conditions were too restrictive, but Lindquist said many of the regulations were made with the future neighbors in mind if residential development happens around one of these facilities.
The conditions would limit commercial event centers to parcels located east of Akron Avenue and south of County Road 42 away from residential property.
Other conditions include the parcel must be minimum of 5 acres, host a maximum of 200 guests (more guests may be approved by the city); events must be over by 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and by midnight Friday and Saturday; parking and outdoor seating areas should have appropriate screening from neighbors; the site should have adequate parking and lighting; overnight guests are prohibited; and several other legal compliance with food and liquor service, parking and noise issues.
Droste said he felt like it would be a bit restrictive, particularly the fenced-in area to drink alcohol outside.
“We’re using the same standards that we would for outdoor patios serving liquor in our commercial districts,” Lindquist said. “We don’t want people to leave the site and ultimately go into neighborhoods. No one is around them, but over time that will change. … We don’t want people to walk on other people’s lots. We can only make those conditions now. ”
Lindquist said when she worked in Cottage Grove, the city received numerous complaints from neighbors of Cedarhurst Mansion, a wedding facility, about noise and people wandering onto their property.
She said they won’t have that problem for years, but they want to be ready if they ever do have an issue when residential neighborhoods expand to rural Rosemount.
The primary issue, she said, is about noise.
Police Chief Mitchell Scott agreed.
“When you become vague, you open the door, you open Pandora’s box,” Scott said. “If you don’t set the guidelines now, you can’t go back and be more restrictive. By opening up to the owner’s interpretation would be a mistake.”
Droste was also concerned about the health of guests because neighboring farms could be spraying pesticides before or during weddings.
Lindquist said it would be a challenge to regulate.
“The city doesn’t want to get in position that tells people when to apply pesticides,” Lindquist said.
But the City Council did add language that the owners coordinate with the surrounding properties to comply with state health codes.
Council Member Shaun Nelson was the only nay vote.
During the discussion period, he questioned why the city wasn’t going to require a police officer on site, like the city requires of people who want to rent out the Rosemount Community Center for weddings.
He said he felt like it was putting the city at a competitive disadvantage.
Lindquist said it was a policy decision to place an officer at the city building, and the city doesn’t require an officer to be present during a private wedding.
Lindquist said the city doesn’t anticipate many requests for this type of structure, but wanted to be ready if people wanted to do this.
She said this is for people who want to use their property in a creative way, not for commercial ventures.
“This will help keep some of that rural character even when the community urbanizes,“ Lindquist said.