Farm stand law creeps forward

By Jay Braman Jr.
There have been several meetings of Shandaken officials to figure out the controversial new produce stand law, the latest being a special session held last Tuesday by the planning board.
After reviewing the proposal that evening the planners recommended its passage by the town board, but made a couple of minor changes they had asked the town board to consider before adoption.
With Ulster County Planner Dennis Doyle present in an advisory capacity, the planners waded through the proposed law despite audience warnings that they were rushing through what is a complicated issue that required more research.
The planners felt lighting restrictions should be loosened to allow for security lighting. They also recommended dropping specific restrictions on products sold. Instead they suggest simply limiting nonproduce items to no more than 20 percent of the size of the operation. As for limiting the size of the produce stand to 2,000 square feet, the planners agree, noting that variances would be available for a larger size operation.
Now the law is back in the hands of the town board, which is expected to adopt it Monday, May 4 at town hall on Route 28 in Allaben, but only after giving residents yet another chance to weigh in. The most recent public hearing on the law on April 13 was held open on the advice of zoning board member Keith Johnson, who told the town board that night that if they closed the hearing it set a clock ticking for making a decision on the law. Holding it open, he said, gave the board leeway.
In a telephone interview just prior to the planning board session Tuesday, Supervisor Peter DiSclafani explained the intent of the law. He said that currently the only new, lawful activity permitted in hamlet residential zones is the severely limiting farm-stand law. That law, which is unaffected by the produce stand law, allows only 100 square feet to do business, and that’s if it is attached to an actual farm.
Since there are no farms in town, another law must be drafted to allow farm stands. The trick, DiSclafani said, is providing enough restrictions to protect the rest of the neighborhood.
Such sentiments were echoed by Pine Hill resident Mary Herrmann, who noted that the law, if passed, allows produce stands all over town. Herrmann said she, like most folks, would not want a huge operation next to her house running fully lighted 24 hours a day.
Oliveria resident Sean Lathrop offered a fresh perspective on the matter at the last public hearing, urging the board and produce stand owners like Higley and the nearby Alyce and Rodgers Fruit Stand to form a coalition and use “forward thinking leadership” to cultivate a much larger produce selling industry, sort of a giant farmers’ market.
“Let’s make something out of this,” he said. “It wouldn’t be a bad thing if people came from all up and down the 28 corridor to our town for produce nine months a year.”
Oliveria resident Joan Lawrence-Bauer said she was “heartsick and frightened” by the town board’s effort to overregulate.
“If you pass this law now,” she wondered, “ what will you pass next week?”
Earlier this year the town board passed new laws restricting property use within town right of way along roadways. The proposed produce law would require produce stands and parking areas to be at least 20 feet back from any right of way.
Also this coming Monday, there are public hearings on new laws for parking violations and dogs.
Public hearings on those start at 6 p.m.