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Public hearing to address wedding barns


A public hearing to allow wedding barns in Wilmington Township is set for 5 p.m. March 2 at the township municipal building, 669 Wilson Mill Road.

Immediately following the public hearing, supervisors will vote on adopting proposed changes to the zoning amendment that would make wedding barns a conditional use.

The changes would include wedding barns as a new zoning category. They would be defined as permanent structures, currently or previously used as barns that are "fully or partially repurposed as a venue for weddings, receptions or other gatherings."

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The proposed ordinance: limits attendance to 200 or fewer persons, depending on a review by the building inspector or zoning officer; prohibits more than 12 events per year in a residential district but imposes no limit on the number in an agricultural district; requires parking to be on the property and not on state or township roads; states events must be between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m.; limits noise to 60 decibels at the property line; requires the owner to have bonded on-site security guards for each event and proof of liability insurance; bans food preparation on site except incidental preparation; forbids food or beverages sale on premises and allows alcohol to be served as allowed by state and local laws; prohibits fireworks or open fires; and requires the barns to be inspected and approved by a township-approved engineer.

The ordinance is available for public inspection at the Lawrence County Law Library, the New Castle News office and the municipal building.

Earlier this month, supervisors agreed to depart from the recommendations of the township planning commission, which recommended a limit of 12 events per year and 200 guests for agricultural zones and prohibiting them in the R-2 zones.

Richard and Jody Wimer of JPC Events Group are asking for the zone change to allow creation of The Farm at Willowbrook on a 5- acre farm on Route 956 owned by Thomas Shumaker. The change also would allow Gina Sharbaugh's SharBarn on Wilson Mill Road. The Wimers plan to invest $2 million in their facility, their attorney, James Manolis, told supervisors at a meeting earlier this month.

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The proposed ordinance states that such wedding barns are not clearly covered in the current ordinance and that the supervisors want to encourage "agri-tourism" while maintaining the rural and residential character of the township.


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