Greetings Blue Barn Family,
As you know, it’s been a fun summer… The nonsense continues as we have a neighbor who is continuing to diligently oppose our zoning (and our very existence). It’s an odd grudge, but one he has apparently been harboring with intensity.
There’s been many ‘less-than-accurate’ characterizations of Blue Barn in the Times Union regarding how our business came to be and the validity of the zoning. Here’s a quick recap of our timeline.
2013 – Blue Barn petitioned the BZA for an exception to build the berry farms, the Blue Barn with the store and indoor room, as well as a few other small things around the farm. That petition was granted unanimously (Case 13011E)
2014 – Kosciusko County came out for our Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
2014 – Blue Barn petitioned for the chicken coup and a few other minor additions. Again, petition granted. (Case 14026E)
2016 – Blue Barn petitioned to build the event pavilions with a pergola for hosting outdoor parties not to exceed 10:30 pm. We self-imposed a mandatory cut-off time of 10pm to avoid any complications. The minutes (Case 16029E) are below. These are all matters of public record.
For the past six years, Blue Barn has operated in exact accordance with the above exceptions.
And it’s been a tremendous half-decade, largely due to you; the amazing support of our amazing community. Blue Barn has been listed as the #1 Kosciusko County attraction on Trip Advisor, featured on dozens of prominent travel sites, hosted tour groups from all over the Midwest, and even hosted WNDU for a televised feature on what make our town so special and worth visiting. We’ve been able to support local schools and organizations like the Lakeland Youth Center and to donate our grounds to the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department for their HERO Camp. We’ve created a half-dozen jobs and created more than $1,000,000 in positive economic impact for the county, and growing every year!
The opponent of our business has stated in meetings that “this (dispute) is tearing our neighborhood apart” and that he “doesn’t want to see us shut down” and that they want to work together. Despite that public statement, he has repeatedly rejected our efforts to even meet to resolve this situation. He is representing that he speaks for the neighborhood, when that’s clearly not true, as demonstrated by the many, many folks in the community who have expressed their support.
In fact, the claims that have been made against us could not be farther from the truth. Each meeting the outright lies have been bolder and bolder. In one meeting they accused us of not having septic and pumping waste into the lake (um…we have toilets, dude). In another, they suggested that Blue Barn was responsible for the lake levels being high this year (despite record rainfalls that threatened many local farmer’s livelihoods.) He even knocked on some of your doors saying he was being prevented from skiing, even though our business has no impact on his use and access to the lake (and we’ve made that clear to him). Heck, the road he uses to access the lake lies on our property, and he freely (literally) travels it nearly every day with no restriction – even while doing all of this!
I’d share more, but I think you get the point. All these allegations are, obviously, absurd and false, but have been very damaging nonetheless.
We received a new list of ‘conditions’ from our remonstrator that included some insanely outrageous demands. We had agreed to fair operating hour and day restrictions, future expansion restrictions, and even to construct some landscaping berms to shield the venue from view (despite them being over 1/5 of a mile away and not in direct sight line). Our concessions have thus far been ignored because we won’t meet them ALL. The one condition he’d “allow” Blue Barn to continue to exist was to take the adjoining private lake (which was built by, maintained, and continues to be paid for by its sole private owner) from its current private ownership and to instead create a community-owned HOA. Also, that the lake’s current owners contribute land they own to the HOA (in exchange for zero compensation). Essentially, we’ve been told “we’ll leave you alone, but you have to GIVE US a privately-owned custom-built ski lake…”
The one we got today also included converting a portion of my own YARD (as well as the yard of another neighbor who has written letters of complete support of Blue Barn) into community-owned property. We don’t even live adjacent to Blue Barn property.
Not surprisingly, we and the owners of the lake have declined to forfeit our property, and so our saga continues.
If you love Blue Barn. If you like Blue Barn. Even if you think we’re just ok (kidding), we need your voice. If you agree with the TWENTY THREE residents within a mile of Blue Barn who have unanimously signed letters of support of Blue Barn, we need your voice. If you agree with the five other homes on the lake that Blue Barn is an asset to the community, we need your voice. Even if you think it is just FLAT WRONG that one person with a tremendous grudge can threaten to take away a six-year old business that pumps hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars in economic value add to our community each year, we need your voice.
We received a 9-0 unanimous recommendation for approval from Area Planning, but the final decision rests in the hands of our three elected County Commissioners. We hope they will do the right thing and not allow one person with a three-decade old family grudge harm our business and this community, but we also realize that every voice of support helps.
Feel free to email a letter of support to firstname.lastname@example.org, contact the local paper, reach out to the County Commissioners, or join us on October 15th at 9:15am for the meeting. Any measure of support you can lend can help. Your voice matters.
Thank you all for your continued love and support. Without all of you, we could have never endured this season. We are eternally humbled and grateful, and look forward to serving this community for decades and decades to come...
Blue Barn Berry Farm