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Foxley Farm debate draws large crowd to Ligonier meeting

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Thursday, July 18, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Residents filled almost every seat in the room at Ligonier Township's planning commission meeting on Tuesday as they came to share their opinions regarding the proposed zoning ordinance change related to Foxley Farm.

PJ and Maggie Nied own Foxley Farm on Barron Road and want to use the property as a venue for events such as weddings. An ordinance regarding non-agricultural commercial use must be created and recommended to the township supervisors for approval before they can proceed.

During public comment, some people spoke of the economic benefits they believe Foxley Farm's events would provide the community.

Paul Essig advised the audience to embrace the growth of agritourism in the area, such as Foxley Farm's events. He said allowing such activity would stimulate the economy and benefit generations to come.

“I want my kids... and my grandkids to grow up here in this valley, and I want it to be a nice place for them to live,” he said.

Maggie Nied took the floor to express her passion for not just Foxley Farm's events but for agritourism in all of Ligonier.

“A lot of people think this is just about Foxley Farm, but to me, it's not,” she said. “This is about agritourism ... I would not have done this project if I had thought I was hurting anything in this valley.”

Others said they fear the commercial events would hinder the area's natural beauty.

Dave Barnhart, a resident of Barron Road, disagrees with changing the zoning of the area.

“One or two people could win on this. A lot of people are going to lose,” he said.

Marc Robertshaw said if he had known 20 years ago that such an ordinance could possibly be passed, he would not have come to Ligonier.

“I'm against it,” he said. “I bought into my house and the property around it 20 years ago. I like the pristine nature of the area.”

After public comment, the commission chose to adjourn the meeting to go into a work session to discuss a draft of an ordinance presented by Solicitor Judith Ciszek and zoning officer Cynthia Angelo.

Throughout their discussion, commission members deliberated various controls of the ordinance, such as how many events should be allowed per year, how many events should be allowed per month and how many people should be allowed at the events.

Ciszek and Angelo said they will work to create another draft of the ordinance that will include the controls they believe the commission will want.

The commission will discuss the ordinance at the next meeting on Aug. 20.

If the commission approves of the ordinance draft, the panel will recommend it to the township supervisors.

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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