Orchard gets ,approval to stay open later
The Board of Adjustment approved an amended conditional-use permit allowing Eckert’s-Boyd Orchard to remain open until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The orchard at 1396 Pinckard Pike plans to start a Haunted Hayride, said Chris Eckert, owner and president of Eckert’s Inc. Eckert told Board of Adjustment (BOA) members that there are no plans to change on-farm activities in any noticeable way, but rather to expand those activities in a natural evolution of business. With so many families coming to the orchard on weekends, Eckert said, “We really need to just expand the area of the playground to make it more comfortable for the (customer) traffic that’s already there. It’s really not to accommodate a massive increase in traffic, but we do think that there will be an increase in overall business as a result of this (amended permit) because we’re able to extend the hours of operation.” In addition to expanding its on-farm activities for visitors to the orchard, Eckert said investments are being made to plant a new peach orchard, new blackberry patches this spring and “over the next 10 years we will be replanting the entire apple orchard. So the size and scale of the farming operation will continue to increase along with the activities that we offer for families when they come out to the farm.” Two residents of Million Lane voiced concern that allowing the orchard to remain open later on weekends will result in increased traffic and more danger for motorists. “People fly up and down Pinckard Pike,” said Dan Damon. “Their speed, I don’t think is safe for the area … I think increasing that traffic – especially during the night hours” will make the situation more dangerous. Damon also raised issue with allowing the orchard to install lighting for its existing parking lot. “I don’t like the idea of seeing that out there on what I think is essentially a farm area,” he said. In an effort to address some of those concerns, the BOA voted to require exterior lighting to be turned off when the last customer leaves “no later than 10:30 p.m.” Also, the last hayride must depart at 9:30 p.m. so those customers are back by 10 p.m. Board member Frank Stark was not in attendance for Monday’s meeting. Variances approved The BOA unanimously approved side- and rear-yard variances so Antony C. Bays can construct a single-family residence at 5799 Midway Road. Its action came after board members took a moment to review a revised site plan, which BOA Chair Tim Turney pointed out matches the variances requested in the application. Turney said a site plan given to board members prior to last month’s hearing did not match what was being requested. At Monday’s meeting, Midway attorney Hank Graddy asked for an opportunity to speak about the request, but was told that the hearing was closed last month and that a letter sent to the BOA cannot be considered as a part of the record.