Stop work order issued at farm stand

By Jay Braman Jr.
Work on construction of a controversial farm stand in Shandaken was ordered shut down over the weekend by the town’s code enforcement officer, but the owner of the property is ignoring the order and was pouring concrete Monday at the Route 28 location of his business to get ready for a reopening.

This skirmish marks the latest battle between Al Higley, owner of Hanover Farms, and the Town of Shandaken, which has alleged for several years that the farm-stand business is not properly zoned and is operating illegally.

Shandaken Code Enforcement Officer Richard Stokes said on Monday that Higley has gone beyond the scope of a building permit he received earlier this month.

“He came in for a permit to repair his roof,” Stokes said.
But over the weekend Stokes drove by the property and saw that the entire structure was removed and excavations were done to make way for the pouring of a concrete slab. Stokes said that this does not fall under the category of roof repair, and he wants Higley to follow proper procedures so that Stokes can do the proper inspections of the construction.

“He’s pouring cement slabs. They were never there. He’s got plumbing that he wants to put under that concrete,” Stokes said. “ Drainage too. Where does that drainage go?”

Higley, who has a history of disagreeing with code officers, insists that he has a permit for the work and is convinced that once the facts of the matter are fully reviewed that all will be well. Toward that end, Higely has engaged an attorney and vows to continue the project.

“We are ignoring the stop work order,” he said Monday. “The lawyers have this now.”
A few years back, it was the threat of legal action against the town by Higley that started talks about how to reshape local laws governing farm stands. At the time only a tiny 10-foot by 10- foot stand was allowed. Higley got a permit for just such a stand years beforehand, but that stand quickly grew to well over the size the law allowed by current zoning law.

Higley, who maintained all along that he did no wrong, pushed for a rewrite of the law.
Earlier this month the law was revised to allow for larger farm stands, but Stokes points out that the law is not yet in effect.

Stokes said Higley needs to wait for the new law to be in place. Then he can apply to build a new farm stand under the new guidelines, obtain a permit, and go through all the proper procedures, just like anyone else.

“All I’m looking for is for him to wait for the new law to go into effect and then go through the process just like anyone else would,” Stokes said. “I’m just doing my job.”