Council approves permit for wedding barn venue

Published 11:14 pm Monday, October 23, 2017

The Albert Lea City Council on Monday approved a conditional use permit for the construction of a new wedding barn in Albert Lea.

The council authorized the facility to be on property at 504 Lake Chapeau Drive, the former site of the Sons of Norway clubhouse. 

The measure passed on a 6-1 vote. Councilors Reid Olson, Robert Rasmussen, Al “Minnow” Brooks, Rich Murray, Larry Baker and Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr. voted yes. Third Ward Councilor Jason Howland was the lone no vote.

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The request, made by husband and wife Chad and Jayne Iverson, includes renovations to the property. Plans for the facility include wedding party dressing rooms on the east side of the barn, and an outdoor, covered patio is expected on the barn’s north side. A grain bin 14 feet in diameter is expected for outdoor beverage service, and a parking lot is planned on the southwest side of the property. A new parking lot that includes 30 spaces and an additional 17 overflow spaces is being proposed on-site. If needed, additional parking lots are expected at Albert Lea City Arena and on the site.

More trees on-site and the covered patio were added to site plans before the vote.

Council approval was secured after significant opposition to the plan was expressed in the neighborhood. More than five-dozen signatures were gathered in a petition stating the wedding barn will not be in the best interest of the neighborhood.

In voting against the measure, Howland, who represents the area of the city the wedding barn will be, expressed concerns regarding noise and real estate values. Though the city wants to foster economic growth, it needs to be cognizant of the effect the plan will have on local homeowners, he said.

In supporting the measure, Murray said the final proposal was better than the original plan for the site and noted his support for new businesses in the community.

Officials who voted yes discussed efforts the Iversons made to make the plan more favorable for local residents and expressed trust that the couple will run a business that is neighborhood-friendly.

In a public forum prior to the vote, more than 10 supporters and detractors of the plan discussed their opinions on the wedding barn.

“I wouldn’t buy my house if this goes through, and I don’t think anyone else would, either,” said Faith Ryan of 2728 Campus Lane.

People who do not support the plan discussed measuring volumes to ensure the barn is in compliance with requirements.

Dori Klocek of 1112 Bridge Ave., a co-worker of Jayne Iverson, described her as honest, caring, intelligent, detail-oriented and responsible, among other positive descriptors.

She said the wedding venue will benefit the community.

“I ask you to vote yes on this issue,” she said.

Don Blake of 2710 Campus Lane expressed concern the wedding barn will violate noise regulations in a residential area and called the wedding barn’s location a “recipe for disaster.”

Music at the wedding barn must stop by 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and guests will be expected to leave by 11:30 p.m. Music will end by 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and guests on those days must leave by 7:30 p.m. No alcohol will be allowed to be brought on-site by guests, and alcohol consumption and amplified, outdoor music will be banned in the parking area.

The rental cost of the facility is expected to be around $5,000.

After the meeting, Blake discussed his opposition to the project at its planned site.

“I think everybody is in support of new businesses coming into our community, it is just the wrong place,” he said.

When homeowners purchased property in the neighborhood, they were looking for peace and tranquility, which will be harmed by the wedding barn’s location, Blake said.

The wedding barn, The Barn of Chapeau Shores, will have its own website,

Jayne Iverson said the couple was pleased councilors approved the plan.

“This has been a very long and frustrating process,” she said. “We look forward to renovating the barn and opening the wedding and events center next summer.”

In other action, the council:

Approved $90 in cash donations for Senior Center activities.

Accepted a nearly $21,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Commerce for the purchase of one automatic license plate reader.

Authorized a grant application to Clean Energy Resource teams for a solar energy study. The city will work with energy consulting firm paleBLUEdot to measure the feasibility of solar energy for primary government-owned properties in Albert Lea.

Accepted a nearly $90,300 settlement with manufacturer Philips Lighting North America Corp. and Philips Lighting Canada regarding Broadway Avenue banner poles. In 2013, four large poles were installed at the intersection of William Street and Broadway Avenue and at Clark Street and Broadway to install banners in the summer and Christmas decorations in the winter.

“The poles installed were not sized adequately by the manufacturer to handle the loadings, therefore banners and decorations were not able to be installed,” Adams said in a report. “Staff has been working with the manufacturer, Philips Lighting North America Corp. and Philips Lighting Canada, for a replacement. They have determined they are not capable of producing the larger pole and have proposed a settlement.” Councilors approved a quote of more than $78,500 for eight large replacement banner poles, including footing design, on Broadway Avenue.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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