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Foxley Farm fight goes on in Ligonier Township

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Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, 11:30 p.m.
 

Ligonier Township has filed a civil complaint against Foxley Farm, alleging it violated a township ordinance by holding a wedding there on the weekend of Dec. 27, ignoring a cease-and-desist order.

Township zoning officer Shelly Kaltenbaugh alleges Maggie and PJ Nied violated the ordinance by hosting the wedding, an activity not permitted in the residential district where the farm is located, according to the complaint filed Thursday.

Maggie Nied denies the township's claim.

A hearing will be held 9:30 a.m. March 6 before Ligonier District Judge Denise S. Thiel. The township is seeking a $500 fine.

Kaltenbaugh referred inquiries Friday to special counsel, attorney Mark Hamilton, about the complaint filed Feb. 6.

“Public and private authorities reported that there was a large congregation of cars on the Foxley Farm property” the weekend of Dec. 27, Hamilton said.

The civil complaint claims the Nieds violated a Dec. 26 cease-and-desist order barring all commercial activities at Foxley Farm, including weddings, receptions, parties, dinners and other activities. Township police served the order, issued by the zoning office, according to the township.

Hamilton said he had received information that events may be held at the farm at the end of December. “It was my understanding that the township, through me, was supposed to hear from (Nied) if in fact she planned to go through with them,” he said.

When the township did not hear from Nied, the order was issued “out of an abundance of caution,” Hamilton said.

Nied said two weddings were held for two military families during December because the original dates were postponed when the soldiers were deployed overseas. She declined to provide specific dates.

Nied said she applied for special-events permits from the township before the two weddings were held. She said township officials verbally promised she would get the permits, but weeks later they were denied.

Hamilton said there is no way he or Kaltenbaugh “would have verbally or in any other manner” told Nied the permits would be approved.

Nied said when she appealed the township decision, the hearing was scheduled for the end of January. She said she chose to honor the contracts she had with the families.

In addition, the cease-and-desist order claims Foxley Farm exceeded the number of weddings approved by Westmoreland County Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr., under a consent order reached in April between the Nieds and the township.

Maggie Nied claims the township ignored the consent order by not approving amendments to the ordinance that would allow her to hold commercial events at Foxley Farm. Under the order, Hamilton said, the township was not obligated to do so.

Nied declined to disclose whether she exceeded the number of weddings approved by McCormick.

Don Korb, who resides near the farm, said he could recall at least two events held at the farm in December.

Attorney Patrick Doheny, who is representing the Nieds, said he will “vigorously” defend them against the township's allegations.

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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