Zoning commission awaits new plans from Acadia Farms

by Laura Bednar

Acadia Farms on Olde 8 Road was once a summer home and horse farm, but the current owners have proposed using the property as an event venue.

Sagamore Hills Zoning Commission Chair Dr. David Koncal said the current owners took on the property over a year ago. The majority of the property is zoned commercial with an area in the back zoned residential.

“It’s a tough area to work with because it is isolated,” said Koncal, adding that when the new Route 8 was built, structures along it were zoned commercial, leaving the residential area at Acadia secluded.

Koncal said the commission has looked at the property a few times over the past 20 years and determined it could be used for business.

“Ohio allows townships to pick and choose what can be there,” he said.

The township’s zoning code does not include approval for an “event venue” the term current owners want to use to classify Acadia. If the property were operated as such, it would host weddings and holiday parties among other gatherings, events advertised on the venue’s Facebook page.

“There is some feeling in the township that a party center has potential,” said Koncal. “We are willing to look at that.”

However, some residents have complained about noise coming from the property when events were held last year. At a September 2021 zoning commission meeting, township attorney Jeff Snell said he received several phone calls complaining of a loud outdoor party with a live band at Acadia. At the October zoning meeting, Snell said Acadia had a Halloween party and several activities were going on.

Koncal said there is a quiet residential area across the street, and the noise is “definitely an irritant to them.”

A tent was erected this past spring to accommodate more people at an event. Koncal said a more permanent structure would be required.

Sagamore Hills does not allow temporary structures like tents, and an open structure would not block potential noise. The tent came down after the topic was raised at a zoning meeting.

There are five residences on the property, and Koncal the said owners are permitted to have family gatherings where people stay overnight. But if the owner charges a fee for anything, it becomes a business, which is a potential violation.

Currently, Acadia Farms can only be used to board horses in the on-site stalls. This dates back to the property’s historical roots, according to Koncal.

He said the commission is leery of the term “event venue,” because it may invite the idea of concerts, whereas “party center” is a more acceptable possibility.

“They need an indoor structure, which will be part of the amendment to the code,” said Koncal.

At a May zoning meeting, Acadia Farms representatives suggested a barn instead of a tent, adjusting wedding event hours to limit noise and extending a house already on the property. In addition to adding a permanent structure, the new owners would have to investigate adding sewer lines, as one of the on-site houses uses a septic system.

A statement from Acadia Farms read, “We feel at this time our only response is that we have grown to love and respect the township of Sagamore Hills and its residents. We look forward to working with the community to become a feather in the cap of Sagamore and all that visit.”

Koncal said the farm’s previous proposal was unacceptable. If the zoning commission moves to amend the zoning code following a new proposal, the recommendation would be sent to township trustees for final approval. ∞