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Ligonier Township zoning proposal in limbo as farm seeks to host events

| Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

After an hour of discussion between the board and residents on Tuesday, the Ligonier Township planning commission made no decision on details of a proposed zoning ordinance change related to Foxley Farm.

“The board has not instructed (solicitor Judith Ciszek) to do anything, to put anything on paper, because there is no consensus,” board member Robert Smithley said.

At last month's meeting, several residents voiced their opinions about a request from Foxley Farm owners PJ and Maggie Nied to use the property to host events such as weddings.

An ordinance regarding nonagricultural commercial use must be created and recommended to township supervisors for approval before the Nieds can continue with their endeavor.

“I don't think we gave Judith enough instruction to do anything,” Smithley said, after the board did not come up with a specific list of criteria to be covered in the ordinance. “She has nothing to go on, and like she said, her recommendations come from the board. Until we recommend something, she can't do anything with it.”

Smithley said if there is no business to be brought forth during next month's meeting, the board probably will discuss the ordinance change again. If there is business on the agenda, the matter will move to the back burner until the board has time to revisit it.

Ciszek said she will look for other information relative to the ordinance change to give to board members to review.

Some of the ordinance details the board discussed included how to define a working farm and what qualifies as an accessory farm business.

Board member R. Eric Schrieber said the board needs to define those terms and decide how the township could verify them before moving forward with drafting an ordinance change.

Smithley and board member Mark Spitzer explained to residents that if the board drafts a change in the ordinance, it will be displayed publicly and submitted to the township supervisors for review, and residents will be able to provide input. After that, it is up to the supervisors to take action. If they do approve it, the ordinance must be sent to the county planning commission for additional review.

The next meeting of the township commission will be held Sept. 17.

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

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