The potential sale of Misty Farm has Scio Township thinking about its conditional use permit
The Misty Farm property is now up for sale in Scio Township. This development led to township officials to take another look at the agreements made with Misty Farm years ago that led in part to it becoming a popular destination for hosting events, such as weddings.
The location has also drawn the ire of some neighbors, who have complained about the noise and traffic that have come to the neighborhood on Scio Church Road because of the events held there. These neighbors have gone to the township board over the years to voice their concerns.
Now with it up for sale, the township is taking another look at the agreements it has on the property and what it might mean for a potential change in ownership. At the board's request, Township Attorney Mariah Fink researched the legal issues related to the conditional use permits (CUP) that Scio Township approved for the Misty Farm and Misty Valley event venues and then gave a presentation at the Sept. 26 township board meeting.
The Sun Times News (STN) followed up with township supervisor Will Hathaway about Misty Farm and the issues raised by neighbors. STN asked him, why Scio Township is looking at the Misty Farm/Valley Conditional Use Permits that were put in place after the township board approved them.
As a note, Misty Farm is for sale, not Misty Valley, but the township does have CUP agreements with both.
“There have been many complaints against the Misty venues from some neighbors across Scio Church Road in Lodi Township,” Hathaway said. “One of the venues, Misty Farm, is currently for sale. The potential change in ownership has led those complaining and their supporters to claim that Scio Township now has an opportunity to revisit the conditional use permit for Misty Farm. The complainants and others have asserted various legal arguments in support of their calls for Scio to revoke the conditional use permits for both of the two venues.”
Listed for sale at $2,850,000, the Misty Farm listing describes the property this way: “With a legacy that began well over 100 years ago, Misty Farm and homestead is a property unlike any other. This 16.6-acre piece of paradise just minutes from Ann Arbor, Dexter, and Saline, boasts a ~6500 SF contemporary farmhouse, two historic barns used as event venues, a private pond and marsh preserve, and lush fields and pastures. From its humble beginnings as a working farm, this special property has been transformed into the ultimate place to gather and celebrate. Host weddings, anniversaries, retreats, product launches, and more at the established Misty Farm. Welcome friends for horseback rides and pond swimming. Gather your extended family for the holidays, cooking a meal in the expansive chef's kitchen, dining with sweeping views of the countryside, and visiting late into the night with 7 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms to sleep everyone. A fully equipped apartment over the garage can welcome in-laws, tenants, an au pair, or serve as a secluded home office.”
On its webpage, Misty Farm is described this way: “A beautiful outdoor venue available here in Ann Arbor just six miles from downtown. Located on sixteen peaceful acres, our 2400 sq. ft. historic restored barn has room for a band, dancing, and eating. Barn accommodates up to 130 people seated, and for parties over 130, tent site is available which will accommodate up to 250 people seated. The site overlooks a gorgeous pond set against natural wetlands and rolling fields. Uniquely restored historic buildings sit among beautiful perennial gardens. This setting will assure a memorable and beautiful day.”
Fink had a number of questions to answer in her presentation. From, do the land owners have to prove either specific agricultural use and/or income to what impact could a sale have on the CUP? For these two questions it’s a "no" on the first one and if the land is sold the CUP runs with the land and the next owner would have to follow the conditions that come with it. There were other questions and answers in her presentation as well.
In the end, she said the CUP is set in place and the only way to put in new conditions would be to negotiate with the land owners.
Misty Farm applied for its CUP in 2010.
Hathaway said “The purpose of the Township Attorney's presentation was to clarify the legal issues for the Board of Trustees. Following the presentation and discussion, the Board of Trustees concluded that the best way forward was to support Township Manager Joyce Parker as she talks with the Misty Farm/Valley owners about potential mitigation measures they might voluntarily take to reduce the noise and traffic. In effect the Township Board accepted that there is no basis for Scio Township to revoke the permits for either of the venues.”
He further said, “The Township Attorney explained that a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) is attached to the land, it becomes part of the zoning. This means that any purchaser of the Misty Farm would also acquire the CUP associated with that property. As long as the new owners complied with terms of the CUP, they would retain the CUP. It is incorrect to assert that Scio Township has an option to revoke the CUP based on the change in ownership.”
STN asked the township supervisor, with this issue, what decision is the township faced with?
Hathaway said: “Those complaining about the two event venues have asserted that the Township should take more aggressive enforcement action and thereby lay the groundwork for revoking the conditional use permits based on violations. They have also asserted that the Township has failed to take their complaints seriously.”
“I cannot speak to Scio's efforts prior to November 2020, but I can say that we have taken a firm stance with regard to potential violations. Every complaint has been investigated and, if there was a basis for issuing a citation, we did so. The fact is that most complaints did not rise to the level of a violation of the CUPs. Even when citations were issued, the owners pushed back with evidence and counterarguments so that only two of the several citations issued in 2022 stood up. These violations were relatively minor and did not constitute a basis for revoking a CUP.”
“This is not to say that all the neighbors' complaints are unwarranted. Their quality life has been impacted by the successful operation of the two event venues. Over time, the reality of having large events across the street every weekend from April through October has sunk in. The problem is that the Misty Farm and Misty Valley venues are operating legally. The Township does not have a legal basis for revoking the CUPs. Even if the Township could devote more resources to monitoring the two venues, it wouldn't change the situation.”
Hathaway said the board heard at the Sept. 26 that the current owners of the Misty venues have tried various measures to reduce the sound levels from their events and otherwise reduce the aspects that have irritated some of their neighbors. He said they are looking into additional ways to mitigate the noise and traffic.
To hear the attorney’s entire presentation, go to https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/cE6Jb57KaLjFWuPqQmIrwvCTr9L3r_wGsdjPq-iv6hCikKzgLuiukfNYrxu_5YIE.ZNuNuBhh5G-RBb-O