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Could wineries be coming to Afton?

Besides farming, there may be alternative activities coming to Afton's agricultural district.

Afton City Council discussed permitting "semi-commercial" uses in the agricultural district during its Jan. 15 meeting.

City Administrator Ron Moorse brought the topic of allowing for semi-commercial uses in the agricultural district to City Council after he had received calls from residents looking for information regarding renting out their properties for weddings, graduations and other gatherings.

Moorse said he has also received calls about opening wineries, which include tasting rooms and wine sales.

Currently vineyards are allowed, but there are not any regulations for making and selling wine.

"If I look at our code, there's nothing that says, 'Yes, you can have that sort of commercial use,'" he said. "So my question is, 'Is that a type of use that the council is interested in considering?'

"There are some things to be considered, but the first question is, 'Should we take a look at it?'"

All City Council members, minus Peg Nolz, who was absent, seemed in favor of looking into allowing semi-commercial uses.

"I think it would be great to find other uses for these farmlands that aren't going to be farmed as much," City Council Member Joe Richter said.

City Council directed Afton Planning Commission to look at developing regulations for semi-commercial uses.

Some of the factors that City Council requested Planning Commission look at include: minimum acreage, parking and liquor licensing.

Additionally, City Council said the semi-commercial uses don't have to be limited to the agricultural district. Residents of the rural residential district should be allowed to have semi-commercial uses also if they have the space required, council members agreed.

"I think it's a great idea," Mayor Pat Snyder said.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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