West Hempfield closes stable case
Ruling could be announced Feb. 5 BY DEAN LEE EVANS, Correspondent
Testimony over a controversial horse farm in West Hempfield came to a close Jan. 15, but a ruling on the zoning case is not expected until next month at the earliest.
"This whole thing is convoluted," said zoning chairman Gary Lintner.
Zoning applicant Joseph Meyer and Allimax Farm, tenants that run a stable on real estate owned by Chiques Rock Farms Inc. at 786 Kames Hill Road, have appeared before the zoning board seven times over the last nine months for two separate, but very closely related issues.
Township officials cited Meyer on Sept. 20 and 27 for violations that included holding birthday parties on the farm -- a non-permitted use in the agricultural zone --, using buildings for the business that were not permitted and exceeding the number of allowed horses on site.
Meyer currently is permitted to have up to 17 horses on the farm but has been accused of exceeding that number on several occasions.
Charles Rausch, Meyer's attorney, has stated that the number of horses -- an agricultural classified animal -- is not subject to regulation in the agricultural zone as the zoning board stated in Meyer's March 2008 zoning decision that set limits on his business.
Testimony on the citations came to a conclusion during a special hearing Jan. 3, but a decision was not immediately forthcoming.
In addition to hearings related to the citations, the zoning board has also heard testimony related to Meyer's request to modify his business operations and avoid future citations.
One modification Meyer is seeking is permission to extend the required end of certain business activities from dusk to 9 p.m.
"I currently have difficulties with lesson plans due to the dusk restrictions," Meyer said.
He said the dusk limitation is especially difficult during the winter months. He assured the board that activities such as hay rides and trail rides would continue to end at dusk, but asked that indoor activities such as lesson plans, classes and indoor riding be allowed to operate longer.
Several residents that live near the Meyer farm are opposed to the extended hours.
They indicated the modification to allow for longer hours amounts to an expansion of the business.
Zoning solicitor Bernadette Hohenadel repeatedly asked those speaking against Meyer to keep their comments and testimony focused on the specific modification request.
"We are not here to discuss things that have happened in the past," said Lintner.
Lintner was forthcoming and said that a decision on the modification request would not be rendered Tuesday night.
The citations against Meyer do not have a deadline requirement for a decision to be rendered. However, Hohenadel said the zoning modification does have a 45-day limit once the case is officially closed.
With that in mind, the zoning board members voted to continue the Meyer case until Feb. 5 with the sole purpose of giving them time to render a decision.
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