Monday, August 4, 2014

Zoning in barn weddings

Today the NYT had a nice article on the nationwide "rumpus" (as they call it) arising from farmers converting old barns into wedding venues, a trend that is part of the larger agritourism craze and resultant litigation I've been writing about for awhile.  The NYT did a pretty good job addressing some of the major land use law-related issues.  Worth a read:

GRANT, Minn. — For legions of young couples, there is no wedding venue more desirable than a barn in the country, with its unfussy vibe, picturesque setting and rural authenticity.

For neighbors of the wedding barns, it is a summer-long agony.

“They blare music all night long, they have college students out there screaming, and everyone’s drinking,” said Laurie Tulchin, who lives in a rural part of Iowa City next door to a wedding barn. “Rural residents have quiet lifestyles. Sometimes I just think, ‘What the heck happened out here?’ ”

In rural areas across the country, residents have protested that some barn owners flout zoning rules requiring that they operate only as agricultural enterprises. Unlike other businesses, the barns are often not inspected to ensure that they are up to code, and many lack proper sanitation, fire doors and sprinklers, accommodations for people with disabilities and licenses to serve liquor.

In the Midwest, century-old wooden dairy barns in shades of red and chocolate brown are ubiquitous, but they typically have little purpose on a modern farm: They are expensive to maintain, and their doors are too small for 21st-century equipment. Transforming them into cavernous event spaces with banquet tables, dance floors and lofts for mingling has become a new way for their owners to make money.

Full article here.  Hat tip to my colleague, Dale Goble.

(By the way, for those in the market for a wedding barn, you could do worse than the historic barn in Roseberry, Idaho, which might have the most beautiful back drop I've ever seen.)

Stephen R. Miller

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