April 17, 2014

Partly cloudy

Judge’s order halts opening of Amish auction house

MEDINA — An Amish produce auction house built over last weekend was barred Tuesday from opening pending a decision by the Homer Township Board of Zoning Appeals.

Visiting Common Pleas Judge Thomas J. Pokorny issued the temporary restraining order in a lawsuit filed by F.W. Owen, who owns the Homerville Wholesale Produce Auction, 9430 Spencer Road.

Owen’s auction is less than two miles north of the Amish market, 11701 Jeffery Road, which was scheduled to open later this month.

In his complaint, Owen said he would suffer “immediate irreparable loss” to his business if the Amish auction house opened.

“They have a right to build a business similar to mine,” Owen said, “but I think they should do that within the law.”

A hearing on Owen’s request for a permanent injunction is set for May 21.

Owen challenged the Amish project in an appeal of the Homer Township zoning inspector’s approval of an agricultural exemption for County Line Land Co., which worked with the Amish to build the auction house.

Nancy Lilly, the township’s zoning inspector, said agricultural exemptions are common in the township and are granted when more than half of the site is used for farming. To meet that requirement, she said some landowners will lease land to farmers.

She said there’s no investigation beforehand to grant this type of exemption.

“We’re not city people,” she said. “We usually take a person by their word.”

Owen filed his appeal on Thursday — one day before more than a hundred Amish men arrived at the site to raise the 28,000-square-foot, barn-like frame building.

On Friday, Owen filed the lawsuit in Medina County Common Pleas Court, charging that the Amish were building their auction house before a decision was made on his appeal.

Curtis Daniels, chairman of the Homer Township Board of Zoning Appeals, said the board will meet soon, but no date has been set.

Nick DeFelice, who runs the County Line Land Co., said he wasn’t notified that a suit had been filed or that there was a hearing Tuesday.

“I didn’t know about this until I heard it through the grapevine in the middle of the day today,” DeFelice said Tuesday. “I had to work, so I couldn’t get away to make it to the courthouse for the hearing.”

He said Owens was trying to stop the Amish auction house from operating because it was competition for his business.

Common Pleas Judge James L. Kimbler said he and Judge Christopher J. Collier withdrew from the case and requested a visiting judge because Owen’s wife is a magistrate in the Medina County courts.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.

  • http://www.facebook.com/melody.cole.9 Melody Cole

    Funny thing as well,Mrs. Lilly lives across from the new auction house going up and personally knows the property owner who is selling his property to the new auction.She deals with the Amish on a regular basis because she owns a shoe business.Hard to believe that she didn’t know what was going on!

  • http://www.facebook.com/pam.serafine Pam Baddeley Serafine

    So does this mean that we do not support free enterprise? We don’t seem to mind if Burger King and McDonalds gives a choice, but we mind when we are given the choice of where we purchase our produce? I guess whichever gives the best costumer service will get the best business

  • http://www.facebook.com/melody.cole.9 Melody Cole

    It means that when you build a new business you should follow the law,not play favorites.if it’s a business zone it commercial.Let the neighbors know that it is going up before it is built.This isn’t about free choice,it’s about respecting the people in the community and giving them an opportunity to voice their concerns.After all in the end that is who will be effected by this new business the most!

  • Si

    It sounds like they did follow the… They found a loop hole, which is still following the law. I bet they sue Owens for loss of profits once it is ruled they r following the law.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pam.serafine Pam Baddeley Serafine

    I also wonder why one business, a shoe shop, is allowed to operate across the street, but the other agricultural business that supports a majority of the residents living in that area is now having difficulty.

  • http://www.facebook.com/melody.cole.9 Melody Cole

    You don’t know the whole story,maybe if you talked to Mr. Owen you might change your mind.I was good friends to alot of the people involved in this and wouldn’t have believed in a million years that they would be capable of doing many of the things that they have done.Doesn’t it seem a little wrong to you that they would build a business that close to someone that they have worked with and been friends with for so many years!Mr. Owen was at the wedding of the Amish man who’s property is being used for the new auction! Mr Owen tried to come to an amicable solution that would benefit both parties involved.They gave him no other choice but to go this route!Again you referred to the new auction as a business,why was it given an agricultural exemption?Please be fair when condemning someone that you don’t know and only know one side of the story!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/melody.cole.9 Melody Cole

    Ms. Serafine,Did you know that those same residents came to the Homerville Auction for the past seventeen years and made a good living for their families?Did you know that this new auction is actually causing division amongst the Amish community?The Amish Bishop came to Mr. Owen at the last auction,on Wed.of last week and told him he had no part of this new auction!Several Amish that were going to work with Mr. Owen this year were pressured into not helping him.His own nephew was approached by the new auction owners and offered a ridiculous amount of money to come and work for them.Please speak to Mr. Owen before you make a final judgement! It’s not as cut and dry as the new auction would like you to believe.You have the right to go to any auction you wish.But Mr.Owen also has the right to try and keep his business going,after all that is his livelihood!

  • Richard Leiby

    Well with Owens wife working for the Medina County courts. I see why the other party wasn’t notified of the court hearing. I see how this is going to play out. Courts not going to rule against one of its employees Amish best pucker up because they are about to get screwed big time. Lets just let people run a monopoly on the produce auction business!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/melody.cole.9 Melody Cole

    Ask Mrs. Lilly,she owns the shoe shop and is the zoning inspector as well as a Trustee in Homerville!

  • si

    Condemning? All I am saying is he is delaying the inevitable, they used an agricultural exemption because it was/ is agricultural land. Why should they come to a compromise when they are in the right. Mr. Owens is upset he is losing a monopoly. It will be ruled on eventually and Owens will have to figure out a way to compete.

  • http://www.facebook.com/melody.cole.9 Melody Cole

    It stopped being agricultural as soon as they put a business on it.I guess that is up to the judge to decide anyway.The thing that bothers me the most about this is the way they have treated Mr. Owen and his family.They have pushed away any feeling of friendship for the promise of monetary gain.That is so sad!!There is always the chance that this business won’t succeed then what will the Amish do?I guess time will tell!!

  • J.S

    I’m confused. If there is a halt on working on this auction barn then why have they still been out there working on it.They are going against the judges restraining order. I guess they think they are exempt from listening to the judge.

  • guest



    this is very mean and selfish of them doing this.there ruining the owen”s auction that was there plan the WHOLE time. They took his nephew and offered around 80.00 dollars a hour. And took the rest of Andrea”s crew. I been going to the auction a while and i still am. They took Nick in when nobody else would they taught him everything he knows. SO THERE YOU GO NICK YOU RUINED THE OWENS AUCTION HAPPY. BUT I KNOW THE OWENS THEY WILL TRY THERE BEST THEY ARE A VERY STRONG FAMILY.