UPDATE - The proposal passed by a unanimous 5-0 vote at the Oct. 18 meeting of the Scandia City Council.
With barn weddings in Minnesota exploding in popularity, a couple in Scandia, Minnesota wants to open their home and barn to religious retreats and small weddings. But, with rural events come traffic and noise concerns from neighbors, who often welcome the peace and tranquility of rural life.
The owners of the property, Jeff and Julie Gacek, recently relocated and refurbished the historic barn, moving it three miles to their property just off Highway 97 in Scandia. They now have dreams of hosting weddings and religious retreats and have already launched an event website for what they are calling "Redeemed Farm."
But even though the couple has promised to limit the number of events per year and limit crowd size to no more than 150 people, the neighbors are fighting them.
"I think barn weddings are suitable in the right spot and this is kind of like a square peg in a round hole. It's just doesn't fit," says Curt Peterson, who lives right next to the farm.
A planning commission meeting last week was contentious. Noise, lights and traffic flow were among the concerns neighbors expressed.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation has said vehicles will need to enter and exit the property from much quieter Meadowbrook Avenue, and not Highway 97.
The planning commission passed the rural event facility proposal unanimously. It will go before the city council next week.
The owners insist they want to be good neighbors and will make modifications as necessary to try to keep everyone happy.
"We're grateful, gracious. We have been honest. We have been talking to the city for more than two years," Jeff Gacek said at the planning commission meeting. "We have been maligned and beat up. It's really tough when people question your character."
The Gaceks declined Fox 9's request for an on camera interview.