Legal battle continues between Miami Twp., wedding venue; Why owner claims he didn’t break any rules

MIAMI TOWNSHIP — A Montgomery County business owner just got hit with a judge’s order to pay a $50,000 fine.

This is connected to a five year battle between the owner and Miami Township.

News Center 7 has been following this story since 2018 when a neighbor complained about noise coming from the property and the owner faced a zoning violation.

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Now, the owner Darren Powlette thinks a previous Ohio Supreme Court ruling allows him to host weddings on his property.

The once bed and breakfast is now known as “Stoney Hill Farm and Winery”. Powlette said he got his winery license in July.

In an Aug. 30 decision, a Montgomery County judge said Powlette disobeyed the court’s December order preventing the venue from “renting, leasing, or otherwise operating for a fee ... for weddings, receptions, graduation parties or other celebratory events.”

Powlette admitted to hosting, but said he did not break any rules.

“All I did was give young kids a free wedding, so personally I think the $50,000 is a little overboard,” he told News Center 7′s Molly Koweek.

He said when the December injunction came down, rather than refunding the couples who had already booked and canceling, he gave them back their money and let them have their events for free.

But Miami Township Board of Trustees Vice President John Morris is not buying it.

“I found it very unlikely that Mr. Powlette is giving free weddings away. I think he’s shown in many instances that he’s going to find way to get around the rules and regulations, and we think he’s still doing that,” Morris said.

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Now Powelette is using a new strategy.

He said an Ohio Supreme Court ruling is on his side, saying if a business produces wine it is also allowed to host weddings.

Powlette said he can continue having events as long as he sells a bottle of wine to his customers.

“He’s skirting the law. He’s going out of his way to bend the rules and regulations,” Morris said.

Both sides are confident they will win in court.

“We’re almost there,” Powlette said.

“The right thing will happen in the end,” Morris said.

The $50,000 is not stopping Powlette, he said he plans to appeal it.

In the meantime he is booking for 2023 and 2024.