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Ligonier Township Planning Commission considers ordinances

| Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 9:05 p.m.

The Ligonier Township Planning Commission adjourned its regular meeting to conduct a work session concerning several ordinance amendments last Tuesday, focusing largely on creating an accessory farm business ordinance that would address a local couple's desire to host weddings and other special events on their farm.

PJ and Maggie Nied, owners of Foxley Farm on Barron Road, wish to use their property for commercial purposes beyond farming to sustain financial stability of their farm and preserve its condition. In order for them to do so, an ordinance regarding acceptable agritourism must be created.

Attorney Scott Avolio, representeingthe Nieds, answered the commission's questions about plans for the business venture. According to Avolio, the Nieds hope that by offering services like weddings at their farm, the township's agricultural industry, as well as surrounding businesses, will benefit economically.

Zoning Officer Cynthia Angelo presented similar ordinances, from states such as Georgia and Maryland, to give the commission samples of how to define allowed agritourism.

Commission member R. Eric Schrieber's main concern was how often the farm would host weddings, worrying that the events would disturb neighbors' weekend activities. Maggie Nied assured him they plan to disrupt their neighbors as little as possible.

In order to create the ordinance, the commission must decide if farms will have permitted agritourism use or conditional use, meaning such actions will be accepted or reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the township supervisors.

The commission did not reach a definitive decision on the matter but did set forth several criteria for the ordinance, including an event end time of 11 p.m. and no amplification of music outdoors during an event. Solicitor Judith Ciszek said she will draw up a draft of the ordinance, and the commission will discuss it further at their next meeting.

In other news, the commission discussed amending an ordinance to extend allowed accessory-structure height, like garages, from 15 feet to 20 feet.

The commission also considered amending an ordinance to let residents keep farm animals on their property even if their land is under 40 acres. The commission plans to individually consider the amendments, as well as a mixed use ordinance, and further discuss the issues at their July meeting.

Nicole Chynoweth is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2862 or nchynoweth@tribweb.com.

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