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Afton still struggling with wedding venues

Afton is still at a standstill when it comes to whether or not to allow for event venues within the city.

Afton City Council discussed an ordinance for commercial wedding venues, and "agri-tourism," during its April 16 meeting.

For the past several months Afton Planning Commission has struggled with whether or not to allow for commercial "agri-tourism" business such as wineries, apple orchards and other types of businesses.

The one business that Planning Commission has struggled the most with is commercial wedding or event venues.

The primary concerns include increased traffic, noise levels, liquor licensing, food licensing and nuisance to neighbors.

"Maybe we're just cynical, but it seems like weddings can be real boisterous," Planning Commission Chairwoman Barb Ronningen said.

Council Member Joe Richter voiced some hesitation to allowing for such "agri-tourism" businesses within the city because it will cause the city to have to review its zoning.

"We're kind of changing the zoning in a way by allowing this to happen," he said. "It says commercial is not allowed in this area. How do we allow this?

"If you're a neighbor enjoying this nice quiet area, now you have a commercial business right next door."

City Administrator Ron Moorse said some things will need to be considered before "agri-tourism" can be allowed.

Some possibilities will be to create a special zoning district, create an overlay district or change the uses allowed in certain districts.

Council Member Bill Palmquisst said he would be in favor of finding a way to make "agri-tourism" work because it will keep large agricultural properties viable.

"When done right, it's probably OK with me," he said. "We need to think outside the box a little bit."

City Council will discuss the proposed ordinance during an upcoming workshop.

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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