A wedding venue owner has lost his appeal to Miami Twp. regarding a zoning violation that led to a criminal charge.
The township board of zoning appeals said that Stoney Hill Bed and Breakfast operator Darren Powlette failed to convince members that the Upper Miamisburg Road business was exempt from township guidelines because it fit within agritourism under the Ohio Revised Code.
The “BZA finds these activities do not satisfy the definition of agritourism under” the ORC, the board announced Monday night, less than a week ahead of Powlette’s Aug. 13 Miamisburg Municipal Court pre-trial hearing on a zoning violation.
Powlette declined to comment on the township’s decision, but said he plans to appeal it to Montgomery County court.
The township this spring issued the citation stemming from an April 19 incident, according to court records. A neighbor called authorities after he said members of a wedding party entered his property and pet his horses before his wife told them to leave.
Powlette, 50, pleaded not guilty in court in May to the misdemeanor criminal charge in connection with activities at the venue.
He then appealed the township’s citation, contending it did “not have the power to prohibit the use of land for agritourism,” documents show. A July 9 hearing lasting more than three hours involved testimony from Powlette, the township and about 10 individuals, most who whom opposed the business, according to township records.
But the BZA said Powlette “failed to present any evidence that visitors to the property ever actually engaged in any” agritourism activities on or before May 8, when the citation was issued.
“Nor is there any evidence that appellant used potential agritourism activities as a selling point to advertise the wedding venue,” according to the township’s finding of facts.
Planner Alex Carlson last month “presented evidence of photos taken by neighbors and sent to township staff, displaying…weddings in progress on the property…..alleged wedding guests on the property,” according to the township’s findings.
Carlson said he never entered the property “for investigative purposes, but felt the evidence he had was strong enough to conclude that appellant was, in fact, using the property to run an impermissible wedding venue,” records show.
“When questioned on cross examination if Mr. Carlson considered whether the use may be for agritourism, Mr. Carlson stated township staff felt wedding venues did not have ‘a strong enough connection’ to agriculture to be considered agritourism,” township records state.