4/9/2021 12:30:00 PM Farmaste Animal Sanctuary to relocate this summer
A couple ag parcels north of Center City could be finding new life as a non-profit and a rural retail operation. The County Board will take final action April 21 on the permit recommendations handed up by the Planning Commission.
At the intersection of 360th and Oasis Road (Cty Rd 9) a new farm animal sanctuary is proposed as part of the “Farmaste” non profit network. The applicants have been running a Farmaste sanctuary and educational facility just a couple miles away from this new location, but that site has to move. This new Farmaste facility is being closed on in June and organizers said they could have the animals (approximately 22) moved by later this summer. The new site, in the southwest corner of Oasis and 360th, needs barns/shelters and improvements for parking and conditions on the permit require a new driveway access.
There will be 90 minute tours of the farm, overnight tent camping and events. A spokesperson said they’d like to be able to offer after-school programs in the future.
They sought to keep the sanctuary in relatively the same area because many established volunteers are already close-by.
The former location was allowed by Conditional Use Permit and the owner of that land can “surrender” this CUP voluntarily or it remains with that old location.
Comments submitted for the public hearing actually addressed factors that were out of the county’s control. Complainants had to submit comment in writing with the planning commission still conducting its meetings on the Internet. The main concern was the Farmaste policy, which is one of “disparaging” farmers, as one complainant read aloud. The planning commission heard Farmaste is “anti-ag” and espouses a philosophy that farm animals are not valued. The organization and its messages are incompatible with numerous family farms in this area and should not be sanctioned by permit.
Planning Commissioner Frank Storm stated the letter writers should visit a Farmaste site and see for themselves. “It is a good operation,” he added.
The permit approval recommendation will be forwarded to the County Board for action April 21.
A site proposed for “Rural Retail/Tourism” use was also given a thumbs up. New owners of the Rhoads parcel a short distance south of the Farmaste site requested to run a market and special events business on 10 acres. There will be classes in yoga, and DIY, and pick your own flowers, antiques and agricultural goods for sale.
There were an in-exact number of music events listed as possible use of the site, but by motion the planning commissioners removed that. One event will be allowed on a Sunday in June and one in September.
Further south, on the outskirts of Center City—Lyn Regenauer got the okay for a “residential kennel.” She said she had a roommate join her household bringing three dogs, and she too has three dogs. She was advised to get a permit or this would not be lawful in the township. The permit states the site shall not be a commercial facility.
A maximum of 10 animals will be allowed.
There was no public input on this permit and it received a recommendation to go to the County Board for approval.
The Wild Mountain winery request for overnight camping was laid aside so the applicants could develop more details. The winery wants authorization to accomodate 68 campers in total, May through October, weelends only. Jim McCarthy, planning commission representatives for that area, said he has a concern aboout “intensifying the use’ of the property. Commission members asked about fire pits at the 13 proposed tenting sites, about security and fencing to protect neighboring parcels, they desired expanded “quiet hours’ and other items needed better written description they added.
The winery business permit needs to be cleaned up too so the county has a better handle on where the operations re starting from, and obsolete conditions should be eliminated. Permitees Andrew and Mark Olson, mentioned that they never pursued hosting weddings and they now have no plans to start-up the microbrewery that was granted approval.
County staff will keep working with the winery application and report back.