The Journal Gazette
Thursday, August 08, 2019 1:00 am

Zoning sought for buggy business


An Allen County couple are inheriting an unusual manufacturing venture – building horse-drawn buggies for the area Amish community.

And the couple, Joe and Becky Graber of Spencerville, have asked the county Board of Zoning Appeals for special permission to move the business to their farmstead at 16918 Hurshtown Road in Springfield Township.

The location is a little more than 1,000 feet west of Boger Road.

The 40.1-acre tract is zoned agricultural.

Records show the couple sought and received a special-use approval from the zoning appeals board in late 2017 for a home workshop for buggy assembly, wiring and upholstery. The work was to take place in a nearly 2,400-square-foot outbuilding.

“There is a shortage of buggy manufacturing in our area. This is very much needed to supply our Amish community with buggies for our transportation,” the Grabers told the board then.

In their new application, the Grabers say they are moving an unregulated business operated since 1963 by Joe Graber's father at 14213 Hurshtown Road 1.5 miles to the west, to their own property so it can continue.

Architect Matt Kelty of Kelty Tappy Design, Fort Wayne, representing the couple, said by telephone Wednesday the move doesn't expand the space for the business but does consolidate its operations to make them more streamlined.

The move also would eliminate an unnecessary hardship for Joe Graber, who is visually impaired, by making it easier and safer for him to get to work, the Grabers' application says.

The previous business was grandfathered in under zoning laws, but the new location brings them into play, with county zoners now able to set and enforce hours of operation, signage, lighting and landscape buffering, among other things.

“A nice thing is the buildings can go back to agricultural use,” should the business close, Kelty said.

A public hearing and a vote on the project are scheduled to take place during the board's meeting at 1 p.m. Aug. 21 in Room 35 of Citizens Square.

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