Imagine finding your perfect wedding venue, planning for the better part of a year, investing thousands of dollars – and then finding out near the 11th hour that the venue has been slapped with a court-ordered injunction that prohibits special events, including weddings.
That, according to an account given at Monday’s Wrightstown Board of Supervisors meeting, is the predicament a young couple is in amid a dispute between the township and Hortulus Farm Garden and Nursery that centers on alleged zoning violations by the 100-acre destination on Thompson Mill Road.
Marc Maser, an attorney from Delaware County, told supervisors his son, the would-be groom, and future daughter-in-law are the unfortunate victims.
Maser said they were given assurances from Jeffrey A. Miller Catering, identified as Hortulus’ exclusive agent on weddings, that the issues wouldn’t impact the wedding. However, the couple learned in June – some three months before the big day – about the court-ordered injunction barring events. Last year, the township filed a request for the injunction based on what it detailed as a series of fire, building code and ordinance violations.
With accommodation plans well under way and substantial non-refundable investments already made, Maser pleaded with supervisors to sign off on a stipulation that would allow the wedding to proceed on the condition it was the final such event to be held at the idyllic property.
“I’m here as a concerned parent,” said Maser. “I’m asking for consideration and compassion.”
Supervisors were sympathetic to Maser’s plight, but concerned about
allowing the wedding given the history of dispute with Miller/Hortulus, the safety-related zoning violations that prompted the injunction, and consideration for neighbors, who have complained about loud intrusive noise from past events.
“Noise is a primary concern,” said Terry Clemons, solicitor for Wrightstown.
Plus, supervisors said others have come forward with requests for “just one more event.” This would now be “four just one-last-events,” said Supervisor Chair Chester Pogonowski.
Nonetheless, supervisors struck a compromise. They agreed to allow the wedding based on certain conditions: It must occur between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.; the event will be limited to the ceremony and photographs; no reception, alcohol, dancing, etc; music will be limited to a small trio or quartet playing wedding music; a formal agreement from Miller that this is indeed the last event; and a green light from Heritage Conservancy, a local land preservation nonprofit. The event will reportedly occur in a temporary tent.
Maser said he would work to get the agreements from Miller and Heritage. Maser also agreed to pay township legal fees associated with submitting the necessary paperwork to the courts to allow for the one-time exception to the injunction.
“I can promise it will not be loud so as to be disturbing to neighbors,” Maser said of the wedding.
The reception, he noted, could possibly be held at another nearby venue.