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RF Township OKs business to provide baked goods, cooking classes

When Catharine Noel was laid off from her job, she decided to "reinvent herself and use her talents" to create a new business venture she calls The Roost from her rural home.

Noel, N8480 850th St., was granted a conditional use permit at the town of River Falls regular board meeting May 20 to add a commercial kitchen building to go along with her existing outdoor oven.

A public hearing was held that night also, but no one attended to discuss The Roost.

Noel plans to continue baking pizzas, bread and other baked goods to sell at the farmer's market and for purchase out of her kitchen. She has been working out of St. Bridget Catholic Church.

She also plans to host cooking classes and demonstrations in the new kitchen, plus host guest chefs from time to time.

Conditional use permits typically require a person to own five acres. Noel owns 4.3 acres. Zoning Administrator Jerome Rodewald recommended scaling back the conditions of the permit to accommodate Noel.

Since she has less than five acres, she's agreed to have only one full-time employee (herself) and one permit for her property. She cannot decide to open a separate business under a different conditional use permit.

The board also requested she send a packet of information out to her neighbors so they are fully aware of her plans. She also must present written consent from her neighbors.

The parking area, which is currently a horse pasture/garden, will accommodate 10 cars. Noel is allowed to have a maximum of 10 people per class. The board also asked she better define the parking area and make sure cars will be able to leave the lot facing forward, not backing out into traffic.

The Roost cannot be open to the public before 8 a.m. or after 10 p.m. Noel is allowed to sell products made there or that are relatable to her business, such as butter or jam for her homemade bread.

She is allowed to have one unlighted sign. The permit is not transferrable should she sell her property.

Noel said she will mostly use her kitchen for preparing her goods for the farmer's market, but she wants to rent it out too.

It's very important to her to make sure the business doesn't bother her neighbors.

"I really want to keep the integrity of the neighborhood quiet because it's what I like," Noel said.

She hopes to open as soon as she can. She may eventually want to expand to host dinners for up to 30 people, she said.

Chairwoman Diana Smith said the Town Board would have to carefully consider that, especially considering all the issues going on in other towns with people wanting to open wineries and how it's affecting their neighbors.

In other business, the town board performed the annual employee review May 16.

The board decided to give 2% raises to the following employees: Michele Delong-Reiter of the Recycling Department; Brian Weber and Rob Schaar of the Highway Department; and Rodewald.

Recycling employee Julie Mielke was given a raise of 20 cents per hour. The board also approved, with Supervisor Brad Mogen abstaining, to give Delong-Reiter a $50 a month allowance for having a home office.

Smith asked highway department employees to contact her each morning to let her know who is working and where for the day. She will then keep a log of work done and hours performed.

Since the highway department works with little supervision, Smith said it's important to know what's going on in case of taxpayer questions.

Supervisor Tom Sitz agreed.

"We owe the taxpayers some accountability," Sitz said.

The board also heard an engineering feasibility study from Angela Popenhagen of Stevens Engineers of Hudson for 805th Street.

Because of the silo right next to the road, steep slopes, the embankment to the creek, the overhead power lines and trees, completely redoing this stretch of road would cost close to $500,000, Popenhagen said.

The board will consider doing this road in the future, in a multi-year plan. Right now, it's being maintained as best as it can be, Smith said.

The board accepted Fahrner Asphalt's bid of $60,841 to chip seal 710th Avenue, Wasson Lane and 940th, 805th and 986th streets and to crack seal 710th and 986th streets.

Weber also hired Xtreme Treeshark of Hammond to do one day's worth of tree and brush removal on Randall Road for a cost of $2,250.

A building permit was issued to William Meier, W7714 State Road 65 for a storage shed addition.