| News

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Ligonier Township supervisors reject proposed zoning amendment to allow agritourism

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Thursday, May 15, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Ligonier Township supervisors have rejected a proposed zoning amendment that would have allowed agricultural tourism on residential properties.

During its meeting on Tuesday, the board voted, 2-1, against authorizing attorney Mark Hamilton to submit the amendment to the zoning ordinance to the planning commission. The proposal set requirements and definitions for “agritourism,” as a conditional use in four districts, including three that are zoned residential.

Hamilton, who submitted the proposed amendment last month, serves as special counsel to the supervisors on matters of conflict for township solicitor Scott Avolio, including Foxley Farm.

Farm owners PJ and Maggie Nied want to host weddings and other events, which are not permitted on the residentially zoned property under the current ordinance. The Nieds, Ligonier Township and several neighbors of the farm have been embroiled in a dispute in Westmoreland Common Pleas Court over the issue.

At the meeting on Tuesday, 16 people spoke for and against the amendment.

Resident Martha Murphy, who grew up on Route 711, said Maggie Nied “deserves a chance to have her business succeed.”

“I am absolutely sick when we say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag and we use the word indivisible, and all we're experiencing in this town right now is division,” she said. “I think there is a lot that could be done on this board, by all the people that are here, with compromise and speaking out, not pointing fingers and saying you did this or you didn't do that.”

Dave Barnhart, one of the neighbors involved in the legal dispute, said going along with the proposed amendment would set a precedent and result in “litigation for years.”

“Read it — R-2 zoning — you can't have a commercial business,” he said.

Supervisor Tim Komar said zoning needs to be fair and made a motion to send the amendment to the planning commission for its recommendation. Supervisors Paul Knupp and Scott Matson voted against it.

Knupp cited the ongoing litigation involving Foxley Farm. Matson said he does not have anything against Foxley Farm, but “with all that is going on,” he is “not interested in changing the rules.”

Attorney Pat Doheny, who represents the Nieds, said he is “somewhat dumbfounded” by the supervisors' decision.

“The events that transpired tonight only serve to confirm the allegations contained in the Nieds' petition recently filed with the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas,” he said, referring to their request for the court to vacate a consent order reached last year between the Nieds, township and neighbors of the farm.

Attorney Bill Sittig, who represents several neighbors of the farm, could not be reached for comment.

Hamilton declined to comment on the supervisors' decision but said he was “pleased by the number of residents for and against the amendment that chose to take advantage of the opportunity to come forth and debate in a thoughtful way an issue that faces the township.”

Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.




Show commenting policy

Most-Read Westmoreland

  1. Youngwood playground found to be in violation of disability act again
  2. More than 100 stamp bags confiscated in Greensburg; 4 arrested
  3. Hempfield cyclist to cool wheels in jail during appeal
  4. Unity zoning hearing board OKs addition to Adelphoi home
  5. Greensburg Police officer taking job in Harmar
  6. McKeesport man ordered to trial in New Stanton hotel homicide
  7. $200K grant will go toward demolition at Monsour Medical site
  8. Jeannette man arrested in city shooting
  9. Irwin murder defendant to be re-evaluated
  10. Last option for former Jeannette Glass site: Pa. Supreme Court
  11. Kecksburg celebrates its UFO history with annual festival