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Ligonier's Foxley Farm owners required to renew application

| Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 9:15 p.m.

Ligonier Township Supervisor Tim Komar expressed dismay that a full house showed up at last week's supervisors' meeting to address a controversial bed and breakfast.

“I find it sad that we have more people here for a bed and breakfast than we do for coal mines and gas wells. And, personally, I think gas wells are more offensive,” he said.

Foxley Farm owners PJ and Maggie Nied hope to convert the 60-acre Barron Road farm into a tourist destination, offering farm stays, weddings, tours and farming education.

The township maintains that such a commercial enterprise does not belong in the residential neighborhood.

The Nieds say that since agricultural activities are allowed in the neighborhood, businesses used to support the farm should also be allowed.

The issue reappeared before the supervisors last week when attorney Scott Avolio, who represents the Nieds, asked the board to ignore a 2011 letter that indicated the Nieds' wish to withdraw a conditional-use application, and reinstate the supervisors previous decision.

In April 2011, supervisors approved the property for a bed and breakfast with a list of conditions, including no additional lights or signs and no public events.

Komar said because township officials formally accepted the withdrawal, the supervisors could not return to the decision and the Nieds would have to start the application process over.

“Legally, the withdrawal has to stand, which is unfortunate because personally, I would like to see that facility be used,” Komar said.

Avolio argued that the application withdrawal from the Nieds and the subsequent acceptance of the withdrawal are irrelevant because neither party appealed the decision through proper channels.

“We follow our legal advice. We've already spent way too much money on this already. If you have to sue us, sue us,” Komar said.

After the meeting, Avolio said he plans to look into “what I think was an improper procedure,” return to the Nieds to see if there's interest in filing a new application and work with the township to propose a zoning amendment that would allow for weddings, overnight accommodations and other activities on the farm.

Although supervisors entertained a lengthy discussion on the farm from residents, the comments had little to do with the technical nature of the May 14 decision to let the withdrawal stand.

In other news, supervisors appointed Albert “Mike” Shadron to fill the vacancy on the board left by the sudden resignation of Keith Whipkey.

Shadron has worked on the township's road crew for about 35 years.

“We believe by appointing him to the position, we'll get through the end of the year without a whole lot of upset,” Komar said. “It's less intrusive to operations to appoint an interim supervisor that knows how the township works.”

Shadron's term will expire Jan. 6, when a newly elected supervisor will be sworn into office.

Jewels Phraner is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or