Hillside Farms Barn Project Making Progress
JACKSON TWP. — Progress is being made on the new dairy barn at the Lands at Hillside Farms after a zoning issue last year that delayed and could have threatened the project.
The new barn is being constructed on a vast field on the opposite side of Hillside Road from where the current barn is located.
Cows have grazed the grass there for generations.
So leaders of Hillside were shocked to learn last year the land is actually zoned residential and they needed a special exception permit to build a barn. They worried several nearby homeowners could fight and derail the project during their zoning hearing.
“We were very fortunate,” said Chet Mozloom, executive director of Hillside Farms. “Three houses overlook this barn. This was their view. Their view was fields. I explained the situation to them and they all were very supportive. They did not come to contest us putting up the barn up. One even showed up to argue for it. We are thankful. So now we have to do our part and keep in really nice.”
While most of Hillside is in Shavertown, the new barn will actually be in Jackson Twp.
The foundation has been completed and the wood frame started going up last week.
The barn was the dream of the late Doug Ayers, a local veterinarian who saved the farm from private development by creating The Lands at Hillside Farms in 2005. He led the effort to buy the farm from the Conyngham family for $4.2 million and paid the monthly mortgage.
Ayers, who died of leukemia in September 2017, wanted Hillside’s cows to have more space, live without chains and not have to cross busy Hillside Road four times a day to graze.
Afterward Ayers’ death, Mozloom and others at Hillside committed to keeping the dream alive.
An anonymous donor soon emerged to help. The donor pledged to donate $2 for every $1 raised by the community, up to $600,000. Within a few months, the public raised more than $300,000 for a total of $900,000.
A unique feature to the new barn will be an observation deck, which will allow the public back inside the barn. The public used to be able to enter the cow barns and interact with the animals, but Hillside Farms ended that feature in late 2015 following a lawsuit threat after a child suffered a bloody nose.
Mozloom said it’s an honor to have helped fulfil Ayers’ dream.
“It’s sad he’s not here for it,” Mozloom said. “We talked about this forever.”
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