HUDSON – Case-Barlow Farm is back to being a farm.

Council last week unanimously passed a resolution to approve the application of Case-Barlow Bicentennial Farm, 1931 Barlow Road, for a placement in a new agricultural use district.

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“Case-Barlow Farm is a unique part of the community and we wanted to assist them,” Mayor David Basil said.

Board Trustee Julie Lindner spoke during the special hearing before the vote.

“Case-Barlow Farm has been a farm since it was carved out of the wilderness of the Western Reserve,” Lindner said. “The Case family log cabin was built on the property by David Hudson himself in 1814.”

Lindner gave an overview of the farm with its historical house, original outbuildings and four acres of farmland. The house and buildings have been restored since 1996 when the board of trustees took over the property.

“We have a dedicated group of gardeners who produce vegetables, grow flowers and maintain an apple orchard,” Lindner said.

Local chefs support the farm and buy and use produce, teach classes and add value to the farm, she added.

“We don’t generate a lot of income,” Lindner said. “That’s not our model, but we produce enough agriculture income to meet thresholds of the code.”

The trustees have ensured the barn is safe and have replaced the foundation where needed, improved the floor supports, replaced and repaired flooring, siding and added new windows, a new roof and electrical improvements.

“The big elephant in the room is the big red barn,” Lindner said. “I call it the most expensive lawn ornament in Summit County.”

They cannot use the barn without the agricultural designation, she said. If rain threatens a scheduled event, they either set up tents or cancel. They would like to move events into the barn, but the Summit County building department doesn’t see the barn any being any different than the Congregational Church or Town Hall and requires the improvements to be equal to those buildings.

The barn would have to be over-improved to meet the Summit County mandates, and the trustees couldn’t justify the expense, she said.

“We would have a year-around commercial building to heat, cool and improve,” Lindner said. “We wouldn’t have an authentic barn.”

The trustees want the barn to work like a pavilion — open air, no heating, no air conditioning but provide minimal protection from the elements.

“If we don’t use the barn, the best we can do is manage its overall decline and eventual demolition,” she said. “To save the barn, we have to use the barn.”

The goal is to open the barn on limited seasonal days for the farm’s programming and hold special events and raise revenue to put back into the maintenance of the barn.

The Summit County chief building official recommended the agricultural designation because the farm meets the criteria of the code and it would allow more flexibility to keep the barn a barn, Lindner said.

“This agricultural designation will finalize our route to improvements for Big Red to pay his own way,” Lindner said.

 

Reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or lfreeman@recordpub.com