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Foxley Farm returns to its roots

| Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, 12:45 a.m.

Foxley Farm owner Maggie Nied said she and her husband, PJ, plan to go “strictly agricultural” with operations at their Ligonier Township farm.

On Tuesday, Ligonier Township planning commission voted to abandon working on a zoning ordinance change that stemmed from the Nieds' desire to use their property to hold weddings and other large events. The farm's occupancy permits allows smaller gatherings for farm-to-table events.

“It was a very good thing because the ordinance that they tried to put together was only going to hurt the last eight farms in Ligonier Township,” said Nied, who cited restrictions on horses and hayrides as one potential problem.

Under the ordinance, large-scale events are not permitted in the residential neighborhood.

In April, township officials were ready to seek a injunction to stop the events, but the sides agreed to allow previously-booked weddings and other events to go on as planned.

An ordinance regarding non-agricultural commercial use had to be created before the Nieds could continue holding such events at their 60-acre farm along Barron Road.

The ordinance had been discussed at several planning commission meetings. The board debated various aspects, including a definitions section and what qualifies as a working farm or accessory farm business.

According to Maggie Nied, parts of the proposal would not have served the best interests of local farms.

Planning commission member Robert Smithley said at the meeting Tuesday that the board will do no more work on the ordinance unless the supervisors direct them to do so.

Supervisor Tim Komar said the way the ordinance was being written was misdirected.

By going “fully agricultural,” Nied said, she could make three times as much money raising meat goats and pigs than she could with events such as weddings.

But the change “will employ less people in Ligonier and bring less money into Ligonier.”

“It's just sad, because farm-to-table events and activities are igniting growth in small towns like ours, and they are maintaining the beauty of the farms,” Nied said.

Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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