Posted by Real-Time News.

New activities not related to agriculture use resulted in a zoning violation, township officials said.

A popular Lehigh County orchard and farm is grappling with township officials over what the agriculture site can and cannot offer in terms of entertainment.

Grim’s Orchard and Family Farm in Upper Macungie Township offers pick-your-own produce through the growing seasons, and hosts school tours in the spring and fall.

In weekends in the fall, the site adds a festival with different activities, including a corn maze, hayride, play corral, pedal karts, apple cannon, farmer paintball, and haunted attractions.

In a letter posted Wednesday morning on the farm’s Facebook page, Grim’s says township officials want to end many of those activities at future festivals at the farm off Schantz Road.

The letter goes on to say the township also wants to prohibit the farm from selling a list of food items, including apple cider donuts, hot dogs and baked potatoes.

The letter calls on customers to contact Zoning officer Daren Martocci and code enforcement officer Kyle Kuester.

Owner Josh Grim said he’s heard from concerned customers, on the business’ Facebook page and through phone calls.

“It’s been a very interesting day, ” he said.

Grim said he received a letter on Saturday, during the busy Columbus Day weekend, that the special events permit he filed with the township in February was denied.

Grim’s has 30 days to appeal, cease operations or ask for an extension, Grim said. Thirty days would be the first weekend in November, the last Saturday Grim’s would offer the entertainment activities.

“I can’t operate a business under this environment,” he said.

In a news release issued Wednesday afternoon, the township said officials took no issue with the farm’s raising and harvesting crops, its “pick-your-own” produce, or sales of products grown on the farm and up to 50 percent of produce not grown on the site.

“New activities occurring on the property that are not related to its agriculture use do not fall within the permitted uses listed in the zoning ordinance. As a result, a violation notice has been issued by the zoning office,” the release says. “We look forward to working with Grim’s Orchard to achieve compliance with local regulations and continued success of their business endeavors.”

Grim’s has had the corn maze since 1997, and added the haunted attractions and paintball last year under an approved special events permit.

“What’s your interpretation of new activities?” he asked, later adding, “Right now, I’m thinking we can do everything we did last year.”

Grim said the township has discuss an agritainment ordinance that would deal with farm tourism, but nothing concrete has been introduced.

He initially applied for conditional use last year for the haunted attractions and paintball, but was told to apply for a special event permit, which he received.

The township said Grim’s can continue the sale of food, including all food that can be consumed on site. That includes various pies, apple dumplings and donuts, apple fries, apple cider floats and slushies, and coated apples.

Grim said the entertainment helps the farm, especially if the weather negatively affects one or more crops.

“That’s why we rely on the agritainment,” he said. “And it’s what the customer wants. They want to make it a four-, five-hour trip. You’ve got to feed them a little bit then.”

Grim said he wants to have customers go to the pumpkin patch on the south side, since the patch on the 2-acre side of the farm is usually emptied after the first weekend. Currently, the farms trucks the pumpkins over the entertainment side.

Grim said he wants to add parking and a pedestrian tunnel, but he wasn’t making any headway on the plans with the township.

Township solicitor Andrew Schantz said he was aware of recent efforts to try and address some of Grim’s activities, but the only issue currently before him was a permit to reconstruct a shed or barn on the property.

Sarah Cassi may be reached at scassi@lehighvalleylive.com. Follow her on Twitter @SarahCassi. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.