Shandaken farm stands face permit difficulties

By Jay Braman Jr.
Getting a permit to operate a farm stand in the Town of Shandaken is turning out to be a tough row to hoe.

On Monday, May 21 at 7 p.m. in Shandaken Town Hall a public hearing will be held for just such a permit, but between now and then a few questions need to be answered in order for the planning board to move forward.

The town drafted a new law two months ago designed to make it easier to start a farm stand enterprise. The old law only allowed for a couple of picnic tables under a tarp roof out by the roadside, and that worked until Hanover Farms in Mount Tremper installed a stand dramatically larger than that about eight years ago.

After years of legal wrangling between the owners and the town it was decided that the best thing to do was to change the law.

But the first company to apply for a permit under the new law found out that a small but important clause in the legislation almost stopped them cold.

Migliorelli Farms, located in the Tivoli area of Dutchess County, has taken over the location previously known as Alyce and Rodger’s Fruit Stand, which closed two years ago. The Migliorelli Family came before the town planning board last month to get a permit to reopen the stand but were told that a permit would not be granted unless there was some other use of the property besides the stand. What?

It turns out that under the new law, farm stands must be what is called an “accessory use.” This means there must be some primary use of the property, such as a residence or some other business, in order for a permit to be granted.

Here’s the problem. The Lancaster family, which owns the property, is in the process of sub dividing out half of it for the Migliorelli’s, who have already signed a three-year lease to occupy the property. This leaves the land without the primary use of the Lancaster homestead.
But after a brainstorming session it was concluded that there is a way out of this mess.
If the Migliorelli’s farm the land, that activity may be considered the primary use and the farm stand would be an accessory to that.

But there’s more to look into. Planning board members are busy reviewing town laws trying to figure out what constitutes an accessory use. They are also checking on the definition of a farm, but it remains unclear if rental property can be considered farmland. The planners asked the Migliorelli’s to check that out with the New York State Agricultural Department.
In the meantime, the Lancaster Family has suspended the sub division process.