GOSHEN — It took a lot of discussion, but Red Tail Farm received its requested use variance to allow for events to be held at the property at the Board of Zoning Appeals meeting Tuesday, May 28.
Adam Scharf, who owns the property at 303 W. Waverly Ave., asked for two variances.
The major request was for a variance that would permit the use of the barn as an auditorium, or event center.
Another variance was requested to permit the transformation of the home on the property into a tourist house.
The barn and property have previously been host for events such as Art in the Barn and for field trips for students, but Scharf envisions the site to host other events in the future, such as weddings and theater performances.
The proposed use of the barn for events evoked significant, and at times emotional, support from community members and neighbors.
Carrie Lee Bland-Kendall of the new theater company GoShakes called the atmosphere the barn provided “inspirational” and said she hoped the group could utilize the space for future productions.
Former property owner Ron Hoke provided historical background on Red Tail Farm, which had been in his family for decades before Scharf purchased the property in 2005.
Hoke stated the farm has always been evolving, and with Scharf’s plans, will continue evolving.
“Adam has taken what I gave him and he’s turned it into a facility our family is proud of,” Hoke offered. He added that the intended use will not even interfere with the continued agricultural use of the property and actually fits in well.
Abby Wiles, an employee in the city’s planning department, gave the department’s recommendation to accept the variance, but with several conditions due to the request’s “unusual” nature.
The condition that ended up dominating much of the discussion was the planning department’s recommendation that the variance for the barn as an event center be granted for a two-year temporary period so that the board could review the progress and any issues that may arise in that time.
The board’s attorney, Jim Kolbus, said the temporary issuance was necessary because not enough details were known at the present time to set definite restrictions.
The two years, he explained, would provide a track record for a more concrete framework from which to work.
Scharf’s concern was that a two-year trial period would significantly hinder long-term planning for events. Scharf added he did not want to put a lot of money into meeting all the board’s conditions only to have the variance voided in two years.
Hoke suggested the board give Scharf a 10-year variance for the event center, which Kolbus called “excessive,” but Scharf and the board compromised with a five-year variance for the barn.
The sides came to an understanding that Scharf could return to the board to show his progress before the five years were up so that he would not have to run into scheduling problems bumping up against the variance’s expiration date.
With the granting of the use variance, Red Tail Farm will now be permitted to hold one event per week, up to five consecutive days, between May through October and two events total between the months of November and April.
The variance for the visitor house was also granted, with the condition that the occupancy for the home would be up to eight people, or would not exceed the legal occupancy as determined by the city’s building department upon completion of renovations.
Scharf said after the meeting that Red Tail Farm will host its first event Saturday, June 1, with a wedding.