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Planning Commission approves farm winery ordinance

Fri, Sep 27th, 2013
Posted in All Government

After a public hearing on the Farm Winery ordinance at the Fillmore County Planning Commission’s September 19 meeting, the commission voted to send the ordinance on to the county board for their consideration.

The commission made some changes to the original draft before approving it. Zoning Administrator Chris Graves noted that the draft had been composed using a combination of a few other county ordinances. Annual production of wine at a farm winery can’t exceed 50,000 gallons, a limit imposed by Minnesota State Statute 340A.315.

The ordinance will govern the establishment of any farm winery within the county. Dean and Lisa Erickson, Preston Township, started the ball rolling to develop an ordinance for farm wineries some months ago. During the public hearing, the Ericksons commented on parts of the draft ordinance.

Changes to the draft presented included a requirement that displays conformity to the county sign ordinance. Also, language that would have limited the number of special events and detailed the kinds of food and allowable methods of heating that food on the premises were deleted.

A farm winery will be able to have events on its property including wedding receptions. Off-sale beer will not be allowed. The winery must comply with the county’s parking regulations as spelled out in ordinance 718. Outdoor and indoor music is allowed, but outdoor music will only be permitted between the hours of 12 p.m. and midnight on Friday and Saturday. Outdoor music will only be permitted between the hours of 12 p.m. and 9 p.m. on other days of the week.

There was considerable discussion about allowing or restricting special events at a farm winery. Duane Bakke stated that the production of wines is agricultural. Wine production on a farm winery is a compatible use within the Ag District. However, members did not want to allow restaurants in the Ag District.

The ordinance does not apply to people that produce less than 200 gallons of wine per year for their own personal use. The Ericksons plan to start out producing about 5,000 gallons per year.

Erickson said their intention was only to sell products directly produced and not items that they would have to buy and then resell.

A standard in the ordinance intended to maintain wine as the major business of a farm winery limits the sale of other items including food, beverages other than wine, and other items to no more than 35 percent of total retail sales.

There were no comments from township supervisors or anyone else from the public other than the Ericksons. The draft ordinance was approved with the changes made during the meeting. The draft ordinance was sent on to the county board.

Other Business In Brief

•A short public hearing was held on the application for a wind tower CUP. Aaron and Toni Kolling, Section 19, Spring Valley Township, plan to put up a 10 KW wind turbine on a 140 foot tower. Chairman Gary Ruskell noted that the planned location of the tower was in a big field with not much around it.

There was no comment from the township supervisors or the public at the meeting. Graves noted he had one inquiry as to the size of the tower and that they had no problem with a small tower. The CUP was approved and sent on to the county board for their consideration.

•A revised draft of the Fillmore County Subsurface Sewage Treatment ordinance was discussed. Ruskell pointed out that it has to be done for the state by February 2014.

Bakke said that the MPCA really puts the rules together. Graves said he was against going to 2006 rules which was an option. He said the draft being considered will bring us up to date with the new rules, including specific rules to accommodate the Amish for which the MPCA approved alternative standards.

Bakke asked what the difference is between the 2006 and 2008 rules. Mike Frauenkron said the only real differences are the rules for soil verification. He said this is an important part and that they need to stay on top of it. Bakke called it ridiculous where some mound systems have been required. Frauenkron said the state doesn’t want to bend on their standards and want everywhere uniform.

A motion was made and approved to bring the subsurface sewage treatment ordinance draft to a public hearing.

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