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Farm may open up for weddings and receptions

Looking for a rustic, rural setting for your wedding ceremony and reception? There may be a new option nearby.

Richard Purdy and Maureen Ash want to host weddings, receptions and rehearsal dinners on their acreage in the town of River Falls, which they call Baldur Farm.

According to their website,, the business is named Red Horse Weddings, based on the Suffolk horses they raise. They used to grow organic potatoes, leeks and grains.

Purdy and Ash, N6759 950th St., are applying for a conditional use permit in order to establish Red Horse Weddings.

At Monday's town of River Falls board meeting, board members discussed the conditions of the permit.

A land-use permit would be required if Ash and Purdy want to build new structures on the property.

Right now, the farm has a pole shed that can be used as a reception site. There is also a licensed commercial kitchen onsite.

Board members agreed to allow a maximum of 200 people per event and a limit of 25 events per year.

Ash and Purdy are hoping to host at least 10 weddings a year.

There must be at least 100 parking spaces, two of them handicapped.

Two satellite toilets must be available for guests. This meets the town's large gathering law.

The permit will be good for one year, with a six-month status review. The permit may be renewed every two years if all requirements are met and any complaints by neighbors are addressed.

All events will end at midnight, with no music after midnight. They also will not allow fireworks or Mylar balloons on the property because both will scare their horses.

The town also wants a stop sign at the end of 950th Street, a private road. All brush and tree limbs must be trimmed back on the private road and in their driveway and be accessible for emergency vehicles.

Zoning Administrator Jerome Rodewald also requested a hazardous weather plan be put in place in case of bad weather, like high winds or tornadoes. He said Ash and Purdy are looking into using a shed owned by Bob Bliss for that purpose.

Board members listed solid waste and recycling containers, proof of liability insurance of at least $1 million and special event licenses if beer or wine is sold on the farm as conditions of the permit, should it be granted.

Ash and Purdy don't plan to sell beer or wine. If a wedding party wants to bring in its own alcohol, it must provide a licensed bartender to serve the beverages.

Neighbor Julie Sponsler, N7649 950th St., called Chair Diana Smith with questions about the wedding business.

She was concerned with how the property was zoned, if the status of the road would change to public with the traffic from the farm and if the business fit in with the land being part of the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust.

Rodewald said the property is zoned exclusive agriculture, which is why a conditional use permit is needed.

The road is considered a private road because no more than five houses can be on it and the residents of the road agreed to maintain the road. That status doesn't change if there is more traffic on the road due to a new business.

Hosting weddings on the farm will not affect the land's standing with the KRLT, Smith said.

Smith said if the road needs more upkeep due to the increased traffic from Red Horse Weddings, then the residents of the road will have to figure it out together.

Ash and Purdy collected signatures from the rest of their neighbors, who are in support of their venture.

Smith also said she believes Red Horse Weddings is a good example of agri-tourism and allowing others to enjoy the land.

"It also allows people to utilize those old barns and keep them from falling down," Rodewald said.

No action will be taken on the permit until after the public hearing, which will be held Feb. 18 at 7:45 p.m.

Supervisor Brad Mogen said he received a call from a concerned resident about the salvage yard located at W9880 710th Ave. The resident was concerned about how the mess was going to be cleaned up if it wasn't a junkyard anymore.

The yard, formerly Jerry's Salvage Yard, is now called Automotive Recyclers of River Falls. It is owned by Somerset Auto Salvage & Repair.

The board is writing a letter to the owner of the salvage yard, stating no business can be conducted and no materials or equipment can be added or moved from the property until the yard is relicensed and a mosquito abatement plan is in place. The license renewal was due in September 2012 and the board has heard nothing from the owner.

Smith said Jan DeCraene of Cocker Spaniel Resources, Inc. contacted her about possibly using the old Humane Society building for animal rescue again. Mogen said he wasn't sure if the building is usable.

Clerk Ruth Stern said she received a resignation letter from Dan Randall of the Park Board. Brian Copp will also be resigning when he moves to Seattle.

Their terms end in May and the board will be considering appointments for the two slots.