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Ligonier Twp. seeks injunction to stop Foxley owners from staging big events

| Saturday, March 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Ligonier Township officials want a Westmoreland County judge to prohibit the owners of a picturesque 60-acre retreat from hosting weddings, parties and overnight stays at the historic property.

The township asked for an injunction Thursday, saying that Foxley Farm owners Maggie and PJ Nied continue to advertise the 18th-century buildings as available for weddings and other functions.

As of Friday afternoon, Ligonierfoxleyfarm.com states the farm is “now open and currently booking farm stays and special events.”

Maggie Nied said no weddings have been held at the property since October, and the October event had a one-day special event permit.

She said she hasn't scheduled any new events since Sept. 6 when the township sent out a notice saying the farm's owners violated local ordinances.

“I don't know how they're going to do anything when we haven't done anything wrong,” Maggie Nied said.

The Nieds contend events such as weddings are permissible on their property because it generates money needed to keep the farm afloat. The township's zoning laws should be amended to further allow those events for farming properties that promote recreation, entertainment or education, the Nieds said.

In court documents, the township argues local laws preclude paid events, such as weddings, from being held in the residential neighborhood where the farm is situated.

The township's zoning hearing board in February agreed with a decision to reject the issuance of an occupancy permit for the farm.

“The defendants have acted in a manner so as to demonstrate a fixed intention to refuse to comply with the order of the zoning hearing board,” township solicitor Judith Ciszek wrote in the civil complaint. “The defendants have demonstrated a settled purpose to continue to conduct unauthorized activities, operate a bed and breakfast and offer other overnight stays, and to hold weddings ... without a Ligonier Township occupancy permit.”

Ciszek asked West-moreland County Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr. to issue an injunction against the Nieds from renting out their farm for commercial business activities unless an occupancy permit is first issued by the township.

No hearing date is scheduled. The Nieds, and their attorney, have 20 days to respond to the township's complaint.

Jewels Phraner is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-1218 or jphraner@tribweb.com.

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