When: Rapho Township supervisors meeting May 7.
What happened: Supervisors granted a temporary zoning permit to Mount Hope Estate & Winery to host drive-in movies and concerts on the grounds of the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, 2775 Lebanon Road, Manheim. The meeting was held via Facebook Live with all three supervisors in the township office.
Why it’s important: Scott Bowser, one of the owners of Mount Hope, said the new entertainment use is a stop-gap measure intended to limit “severe economic damage” to the business because of COVID-19 measures. COVID-19 prohibitions on large gatherings has meant that the spring festivals held on the grounds of the Renaissance Faire have been canceled.
The plan: One of the parking lots on the site will be converted to host drive-in movies and drive-in/sitting concerts. Bowser said movies will be family-friendly PG-13 recently run and classic movies. Sound for the movies will be received in each vehicle via the vehicle’s audio system. The movie screen will be located at the front of the parking lot near the wall that surrounds the fairgrounds. For concerts, vehicles would be parked about 125 feet from the stage. Movies would be shown Friday and Saturday evenings starting at dusk. Concerts would be held Wednesday through Sunday in the afternoon and evening, weather permitting, based on availability of regional acts. Pre-ordered food and beverage take-outs would be available from a venue next to the parking lot. Restrooms in the adjacent Barn & Barrel events venue would be available to guests. Concerts also would be available to view on Mount Hope’s crowdcast site.
Conditions: Supervisors placed several conditions on their approval. The temporary zoning permit is effective for 180 days. It may continue as a temporary use after 180 days if a request for extension is granted by the township. No other outdoor event may be held on the property during a drive-in event. The final event schedule will be confirmed with the township’s zoning officer. A $50 special event permit fee must be paid each week one or more events will be held.
Quotable: “My hope is that this is a temporary thing — something to keep people employed until we can reopen and host our usual events,” Bowser said. “This is a great thing. It will give people an entertainment option. It also won’t generate the traffic that the festivals and the fair does,” said Supervisor Jere Swarr.
Timeline: Bowser said a timeline for offering drive-in movies and concerts has not been determined. However as soon as gatherings are permitted, he plans to have dates available. He stressed that social distancing and state Department of Health guidelines would be followed.
Other business: Supervisors said a conditional use plan has been submitted by Messick’s Farm Equipment for a 28.75-acre lot at 1475 Strickler Road. The conditional use hearing will be held during the supervisors June 18 meeting. The farm equipment dealer plans to construct a a 368,100-square-foot three-story building on the site. The plan will be forwarded to the township planning commission and Lancaster County Planning Commission for review.