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Event barn on edge of Mitchell gains initial approval

A plan for a barn event venue on the northern edge of Mitchell received preliminary approval Monday from the city's Planning Commission.

Dan Fechner is applying for a conditional use permit to build an assembly hall, located west of the Pepsi-Cola Soccer Complex, along North Ohlman Street. The facility received preliminary unanimous approval from the commission, which met at Mitchell City Hall.

The facility would have a raised roof and measure 78 feet wide by 108 feet long, with a meeting hall space of 5,544 square feet. The barn — with an estimated capacity of 369 people — is designed to host weddings, receptions and large-group events, such as craft fairs, bridal shows and other special events.

"If things go right, it will be a place where people can get married and have their receptions all in one place," said Fechner, who is in the process of purchasing the facility, contingent on gaining the conditional use permit.

The project would seek to capitalize on a trend for weddings, with more and more ceremonies and receptions being held at rural locations with rustic barn motifs. The facility would likely include a gravel parking area and potentially an outdoor gazebo, as well.

The commission had few issues with the plan. Some discussion was had about the southern portion of the property, which runs along North Harmon Drive and across from Lake Mitchell. Fechner said he will likely subdivide out lots at some point, but the barn venue would remain secluded on the northern part of the property.

The barn will be similar, Fechner said, to the Meadow Barn at Country Orchards near Harrisburg. That facility, measuring 132 by 54 feet and located outside Sioux Falls, has proven to be popular.

Fechner said a similar facility near Mitchell could support the community's hotels and businesses. His goal is to have weddings booked up to two years in advance and have one to two events each weekend during the prime wedding months.

"I believe that the barn wedding venue is unique in Mitchell and no one in several miles has a barn venue setting," Fechner wrote in the plan submitted to the commission.

The facility is currently just outside the city limits but will likely hook to the city's water supply. The plan will go before the Mitchell City Council at its Tuesday meeting.