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Hempfield banquet facility owner hit with injunction

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By Richard Gazarik
Thursday, July 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

A Westmoreland County judge on Wednesday issued a preliminary injunction against the owners of the Blue Moon Barn and Covered Bridge that allows them to hold weddings through 2013 but prevents them from booking future events.

Judge Richard McCormick Jr. also ordered Mark Guffey and his daughter, Carissa Lynn Guffey, to pay Hempfield a $500 penalty for each event held between now and Nov. 2, when the last wedding is scheduled.

Guffey charged $4,000 to rent the site but said he recently increased the price. He has booked weddings through 2014 and has one scheduled in 2015, he said.

The injunction will remain in effect until a land use hearing is held on the Guffeys' appeal of a township zoning hearing board ruling that denied them a variance to operate a business in an area zoned for agriculture. If the township's appeal is upheld, McCormick will issue a permanent injunction against Blue Moon, effectively putting it out of business.

“It's a partial victory for the township and bridal parties,” said Doug Weimer, township supervisor chairman. “Obviously, it's not over.”

The township sought an injunction because the Guffeys continued to book events at the 11-acre site after the zoning hearing board found them in violation of the ordinance and denied their appeal. Hempfield officials went to court, claiming the Guffeys did not inform couples that they may not be able to accommodate weddings because of the zoning dispute.

The Guffeys made extensive renovations to their properties, which straddle Hempfield and Unity townships, without obtaining building or occupancy permits, according to hearing testimony.

McCormick sought to resolve noise and parking problems that nearby residents said weddings were causing. His order restricts parking on Pattern Shop Road, and guests must stay at least 10 feet from the edge of the road. The Guffeys must provide a person to direct traffic and parking to prevent guests from trespassing on neighboring properties.

They must hire security for all events, and Mark Guffey must be present on site during receptions. Noise must be controlled, and the receptions must end at 11 p.m., according to the order.

“We're going to monitor all of his events in the future,” Weimer said.

The Blue Moon Barn is located in Hempfield, but Guffey's house, which he operates as a bed and breakfast, is in Unity. He applied for a variance in Unity to operate that business because it is not in compliance with that township's zoning code.

The two properties are separated by a stream, Township Line Run, which flows under the covered bridge.

Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at rgazarik@tribweb.com.

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