A wedding venue has received the nod of approval from Town of Troy Plan Commission after it had previously been operating without a permit.

The commission recommended approval of a conditional use permit for Settlement Hill Farm, owned by Michael and Evonne Ganz, at its meeting on Thursday, Aug. 2.

The Ganzes purchased the historic farmstead property off County Road U in 1996, and started fixing up the barn first for a church event, then a fundraiser and then their daughter's wedding. The economy had crashed and the budget was tight, so their barn became her wedding site.

"We were just trying to make a wedding spot for our daughter originally," Evonne Ganz said.

The idea of a wedding venue was born from there.

Settlement Hill would operate as a venue from May through mid-October with no more than one event a week. Evonne Ganz said people from the wedding come in as early as 8 a.m. to set up, ceremonies are at 4 p.m. and the reception wraps up by 11 p.m.

Any music from the reception is required to stay within the barn, Evonne Ganz said.

"We don't want to sound like a nightclub," she said.

Guests bring in their own licensed catering and alcohol.

"We basically are just renting them the hall, the space," she said.

Evonne Ganz said it has very little impact on the neighborhood, with just a slight increase in traffic as people come in before the ceremony and leave at different times. All parking is on the property.

"We feel that we're helping preserve the rural area by keeping this farm here and keeping this barn standing," she said.

Two of the Ganz's closest neighbors spoke in support of the business during a public hearing, and another neighbor wrote a letter of support. Noise, traffic and other possible disruptions had not been an issue with previous events.

Zoning Administrator Wendy Sander said the conditional use permit would allow for 24 events within the May to October season with a maximum attendance of 275 people. Parking is on a grassy area of the property, so there were no concerns with dust.

Sander said a state inspector has visited the site and given the couple items to comply with.

Commission member Dean Albert asked if the couple had spoken with River Falls Fire Department. Michael Ganz said they had spoken with Hudson Fire, as they initially believed they were in their coverage area.

Commission and board member Jan Cuccia said using the existing historical barn as a venue fits with the agricultural tourism definition as laid out in the town's zoning goals.

Commission member Paul Mahler agreed, calling this project the poster child of the commission's goal.

Commission chairperson Dan Pearson said this use works to maintain one of the historic barns in the area.

"They're going to come down if they're not used," Pearson said.

The plan commission decided on conditions regulating the number of events, the hours of the day, length of the season, adherence to local requirements, state inspections and fire inspector, limiting total attendance and parking only on designated area of property. The commission also stipulated that the permit be reviewed in two years.

The Ganzes have upcoming weddings scheduled, so the commission asked them to comply with these conditions as soon as possible.

The issue is on the agenda for the town board meeting on Thursday, Aug. 9.