Hanover Farms seeks zoning variance to re-open

By Jay Braman Jr.
The Shandaken Planning Board informed Hanover Farms representatives Wednesday that they must apply for a variance from town zoning law in order to proceed with plans to reopen their Mount Tremper farm stand on Route 28 after being shut down by a State Supreme Court decision last November.
At the same session, the planners had several concerns about the farm stand that they want to see rectified, most notably traffic safety.
Planning Board member Don Brewer temporarily removed himself from the board Wednesday night to act as the representative for Hanover Farms. Brewer, who had appeared on the farm stands behalf at an earlier session, was told by the rest of the board at that time that the application lacked sufficient information to move forward.
When he returned Wednesday, he had enough information for the board to officially refer the matter to the town’s zoning board of appeals.
The reason for the referral is because the farm stand is larger than current law allows for the property it is on, just east of the intersection of routes 28 and 212.
The business has submitted a site plan and application to the planning board in order for “the farm stand to comply to zoning regulations and fix any standing violations,” according to planning board records.
The board told Brewer that they were concerned about customers parking on the shoulder of Route 28, as has been the case for the past 10 years while the stand operated without proper permits.

Road access
Also discussed was the possibility of making Hanover Farms only allow customers to exit the business with a right turn only in order to prevent them from crossing Route 28 traffic. Instead, drivers wishing to head east on Route 28 would first be required to go west and turn around at the nearby intersection of routes 28 and 212.
The planners were also concerned about the amount of parking available on the premises. It turns out that the septic system for a house on the same property is under the parking lot, something frowned upon by the state Health Department.
On November 27, 2013 State Supreme Court Justice Mary Work gave the owners of Hanover Farms 60 days to take down their farm stand.
That gave owners Al Higley, and his son Alfie, until January 25 to remove the structure, but the Higley’s have filed an appeal of the ruling. The structure remains standing.
The legal battle between Hanover Farms and the Town of Shandaken began when the Higley’s filed a lawsuit against the town and former Shandaken Code Enforcement officer Richard Stokes in 2012.
The judge’s decision in that case states that after being granted approval to build a 100-square- foot farm stand, Higley gradually expanded the business to over 2,000 square feet despite receiving stop work orders from the town’s former code officer, Richard Stokes.

Ignored the law
In response to Higley’s Lawsuit, the town claimed that Hanover Farms had ignored more than one stop work order and undertook a vast expansion without building permits or site plan approval and did it all too close to Route 28.
When all was said and done, according to the town, Hanover Farms created a retail space 26 times larger than the area authorized in the permit issued in 2004.
Now the farm stand issue leaves the planning board and heads to the zoning board. It will not return before the planners until the zoning board reaches a decision.
If it does return, planning board Chair Joanne Kalb feels there will be no need for a public hearing because the business, albeit illegally, has been there for a decade. “It’s already been established,” she said.