Lehigh Valley

Grim's Orchard ordered to cease hayrides, corn maze

Township says Grim's in violation of zoning laws

UPPER MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. - Grim's Orchard and Family Farms in Lehigh County is locked in a fight with Upper Macungie Township, and some of the site's major attractions are in jeopardy.

From Labor Day until mid-November, the farm is normally full of activity.

"Business has been very good this year," said owner Joshua Grim. 

People go there to pick apples and pumpkins, but the farm also sells food and offers activities, like hayrides, pedal karts and a corn maze. It's known as "agri-tainment."

"I want to be able to sell my apples and pumpkins, and in order to do that, the 'agritainment' and the food is part of the marketing to entice people to come to the farm," said Grim. 

But now, a months-long back and forth has come to a head, and it's threatening parts of his business.   

On Saturday, right in the heart of their busy season, the Grims got a letter in the mail from Upper Macungie Township.

It told them most of the biggest attractions on the farm, from the corn maze to the hayrides, are violations, even though some have been done for decades.  

"They're categorizing it as outdoor recreation, which is not permitted in this zoning district," said Grim.

The letter from Upper Macungie Township also said, since he has a commercial kitchen on the property and sells things like hot dogs and pulled pork, he's operating a restaurant. That, too, is not allowed. 

Grim has 30 days to appeal, cease the violations, or get an extension. At that point, if the farm continues to offer activities seen as violations, they will be fined by the day. That means Grim can offer rides for now, but next year is in jeopardy. 

"We'll be here for apple and pumpkin-picking. There's no doubt about that, but the other parts, the 'agritainment' and food, it all is kind of bundled together," he said. 

Upper Macungie Township officials would not speak to 69 News, but offered a news release. 

They expressed support for Grim's Orchard, but added that activities "not related to its agriculture use" don't fall within zoning rules. As a result, officials said, the violation notice was issued. 

They added that the farm may continue to sell produce grown on the property, and also included a list of fruit-based foods the farm will be allowed to sell, but they did not specify why those foods are not in violation.

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