Wedding venue or agritourism?



UPDATE, 9:15 a.m.: A Miami Twp. wedding venue operator appealing a zoning violation that led to a criminal court charge got no decision from a township's board Monday night.

The owner of the Stoney Hill Bed and Breakfast at 7757 Upper Miamisburg Road applied to the township’s board of zoning appeals regarding the zoning violation citation issued in May.

Darren Powlette contends the “townships do not have the power to prohibit the use of land for ‘agritourism’,” documents show.

However, the board said late Monday night it would not reach a decision until its next meeting in August, according to the township. That conclusion was reached after a nearly three-hour session focusing on Darren Powlette’s appeal, a township official said.

RELATED: Owner of wedding venue facing zoning citation: Miami Twp. has ‘no jurisdiction’

Powlette, 50, pleaded not guilty in Miamisburg Municipal Court in May to the misdemeanor criminal charge in connection with activities at the venue.

Powlette is required to appear in court Aug. 13 for a pre-trial hearing, court records show. The charge stems from an incident on April 19, according to court records.

EARLIER: The back and forth went on for hours Monday night during an unusually crowded zoning appeals meeting focusing on the Stoney Hill Bed and Breakfast.

Board: You are running business through the barn, correct?”

Owner Darren Powlette: “I’m running a farm.”

Board: “You are receiving compensation for holding events in the barn, correct?”

Powlette: “I’m running a farm.”

RELATED: Miami Twp. wedding venue too loud, residents say owner faces zoning violation

People raised their eyebrows and shook their heads as details, such as the definition of a kitchen, were painstakingly debated.

“It’s countertops and a fridge. It’s not a kitchen.”

Attorney Ned Dowd, who works for Miami Twp., was trying to demonstrate that the property at 7757 Upper Miamisburg Road was being used outside of its permitted uses.

In May, the township cited Powlette for a zoning violation. But Powlette said Ohio’s agritourism law, passed in 2016, allows him to hold events, including weddings, on his land. All despite the fact that there have been no inspections typically required of such venues.

“I meet the definition of agritourism. Probably five out of the five requirements I meet,” he told the zoning appeals board.

One of those requirements is entertainment. Powlette said he has a baby llama to entertain guests. This while they party in the massive barn he said he constructed to house chickens.

But when the citation was issued, Powlette did not own any livestock.

Neighbors said they aren’t buying it.

According to Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, in order for property owners to be covered by the law, they have to meet the definition of a farm. This means at least 10 acres devoted to agricultural production or a gross average income of at least $2,500 from such production. That has to be in place before an agriculturally related activity is added, whether education, historical, cultural, recreational or for entertainment.

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