Judge orders Hanover Farms to be shut down and dismantled

By Jay Braman Jr.
The legal battle over Hanover Farms on Route 28 in the Town of Shandaken has reached an end with a New York State Supreme Court decision that puts the establishment out of business.
Hanover Farms owner Al Higley has been at odds with the Town of Shandaken for over eight years. 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 Shandaken’s former code officer, Richard Stokes.
Higley filed a lawsuit against the town and Stokes in 2012.
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.

Structure removal
The town asked the court to order the removal of a 2,184-square-foot concrete slab plus the new roof, wiring and all other improvements, and Supreme Court Justice Work agreed.
“This drastic remedy is being imposed not only because the expansion of the farm stand violated the town zoning and building codes and was completed after the issuance of three stop-Hanover Farms ordered to be shut down and removed: Photo by Jay Braman, Jr.Hanover Farms ordered to be shut down and removed: Photo by Jay Braman, Jr.work orders, but also because none of the construction was subject to inspection to ensure that any portion of this building complies with the relevant New York State and town building codes, which are in place to ensure the integrity and safety of the structure and all the mechanicals found therein,” Work wrote in her decision. “Hanover has 60 days from the service and entry of this decision and order to comply with the removal ordered herein.”

Can’t do business
Work also included language that prevents Hanover Farms from doing business on the site.
“The town further requests a permanent injunction be issued enjoining Mr. Higley and Hanover from conducting business at said premises,” Work wrote. “That relief is granted and Alfred Higley and Hanover are permanently enjoined from conducting the business of the farm stand at said premises until such time as a special permit is approved and issued by the Town of Shandaken.”
On Friday, Town Supervisor Rob Stanley said he was glad the legal process showed that Shandaken had acted properly, but also said that it cost almost $50,000 in legal fees along the way.
Also, Justice Work has ordered a February 28 hearing to determine if Hanover Farms will pay those costs plus fines of up to $200 per day for every day since March 18, 2012 that the structure remained.
Stanley was unable to come up with the other costs associated with the eight years of battling over the matter, but noted that hours and hours of volunteer time had been used, as well as other legal costs as the town sought guidance.
On Friday Higley’s son, Alfie, who works at Hanover Farms, said that neither he nor his father were prepared to comment. Alfie Higley is a Shandaken Town Councilman.