The state Assembly passed a bill that seeks to impose regulations on old barns converted to event venues in an attempt to make them safer. The bill, which remains before the Senate as of Feb. 20, would require all barns built before 1965 to be up to code on electrical and plumbing, and prohibit open flames inside the barn.
The bill may impact wedding barn venues in Door County, but will not have an effect on the new wedding barn planned in Sister Bay, which will be subject to building code as new construction.
“I need to know a little bit more about the legislation,” said Kayla Larsen, owner of Garden Gables in Liberty Grove. Larsen said all of her events last year took place outside instead of in the barn on the property, and the venue passed an inspection from the fire chief when it opened.
Representative Travis Tranel (Cuba City), author of the bill, told Wisconsin Public Radio that the legislation is intended to set statewide standards for safety in these venues while managing a growing agritourism industry.
“It really came down to an issue of fairness, and we figured we would be better off and safer if we had a statewide approach that made all of the regulations and safety requirements across the board equal and similar,” said Tranel.
The legislation applies only to farm buildings built before 1965 and includes:
- Prohibiting open flames and smoking inside the building or within 50 feet of the building
- Mandates that electrical wiring is up to state code
- Installation of smoke detectors and proper egress for a building of similar capacity
- One three-month period each year when no events are held