Elizabeth Twp. zoning board approves variance

By on January 2, 2019

The Elizabeth Township Zoning Board has approved a zoning variance to allow plans for a new farm-to-table dinner venue to move forward.

Elizabeth Farms on Hopeland Road plans to open a seasonal drive-through, farm-to-table dinner venue, possibly operating from May through October.

William D. Coleman, who owns the property, said the business will offer locally sourced meats and vegetables one or two days a week, five or six hours a day, on the site of Elizabeth Farms — a well-known local Christmas tree provider.

The zoning hearing board unanimously approved the request for a variance on Dec. 12. Elizabeth Farms dates to 1758, and was named a National Historic Landmark in 1956. It is also designated a Bicentennial Farm by the Department of Agriculture, and named a joint Agricultural and Conservation Easement for about a decade. Coleman said the Ag Preservation Board positively views the venture as agri-tourism and the food venue will not alter or impede the agricultural use of the farm.

He envisions barbeque pits on existing concrete pads, the location of two former silos. Coleman said plans call for the barbeque pits to roast locally-raised pork, and various local food trucks will provide beef and chicken, fries, and more.

The trucks and their offerings will change from time to time, he said. Coleman proposes to offer Mangalitsa hogs, a Hungarian breed that produces red meat and is often used for ham. These hogs have a wooly, almost sheep-like coat, and are often raised as free-range animals, he said.

The farm’s existing 60 by 65 foot courtyard will be covered by a seasonal tent, providing seating for guests who choose to dine on the historic property. The parking area for 78 vehicles that currently serves the Christmas tree business will also serve the food venue. Coleman said customers will use the entrance driveway that served the seasonal light show customers. The ticket booth will serve as an information booth, and the limited FM transmitter, as well as a web site, will announce the day’s menu.

Because Coleman doesn’t want to deal with building codes, all activities related to the food venue will be outdoors. The only exception will be accessible restrooms added to an existing building. An on-lot sewage disposal system will be installed.

Approximately one acre of the farm will be used for the food business. This portion of the property is located in the agricultural zone, not in the conservation zone. The proposed use required a variance of the zoning requirement that at least one owner of a farm occupation live on the property where the farm occupation is located. The property is owned by Furnace Run Holdings, 121 East King Street, Lancaster.

Coleman is the eighth generation of his family to own the farm. The property includes a sandstone dwelling, a tenant house, a large barn and various outbuildings. The farm manager lives on the farm year round, and Coleman’s daughter and her husband will live on the adjoining farm, he said. The holdings firm owns two more adjoining farms, for a total of almost 350 acres.

Because ag preservation rules preclude the parking area to be paved, no new impervious area will be created. The hogs will be raised by Steve Garman on the Farrington farm on Speedwell Forge Road, one of the first farms to be preserved in Elizabeth Township.

Melinda S. Elmer is a freelance reporter who covers the Elizabeth Township municipal beat for the Record Express. She welcomes reader feedback and story tips at elmermm@dejazzd.com. 

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