Higley's Shandaken farm stand still down for the count
By Jay Braman Jr.
An attorney for Hanover Farms said that the final nail in the coffin might have been hammered in place last week when the Shandaken Zoning Board of appeals failed to act on granting variances to the now closed business.
On Wednesday, the Shandaken Town Hall was crowed for a public hearing on the farm stand’s attempt to gain permission to reopen. It was closed last fall by a State Supreme Court order after a lawsuit brought by owners Al and Alfie Higley against the town failed.
Given a chance to apply for the proper permits and avoid having to completely tear the farm stand down, the Higley’s have been going through the permit process since February with high hopes of having everything in order by the end of April.
But now it looks like there won’t be a decision until June, perhaps even July, due to a legal requirement that has slowed things down.
“You may have just killed the farm stand,” said attorney Rod Futerfas after being informed that his client would not be allowed to reopen until the matter is settled.
According to Futerfas, the business will not be able to survive this year if it does not open until mid summer.
Regardless, the Zoning Board of Appeals is bound by law to give the Ulster County Planning Board 30 days to comment on the farm-stand proposal.
For reasons unknown, the Ulster County Planning Board, which was given the information in April, has failed to review the plans yet.
Plus, the Zoning Board is not the final stop for the Higleys. If the Zoning Board grants a variance to the business, the Higleys must then go before the town’s planning board to obtain another permit. They could take another 30 to 60 days.
When State Supreme Court Justice Mary Work handed down her decision in November, she said 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.
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 to build 100 square feet.