Shandaken zoning meeting rescheduled for Wednesday

Photo: Aerial view of Hanover Farms, taken from the Ulster County GIS web map. Town zoning code says farmstands in residentially-zoned areas can take up no more than 100 square feet.

A special meeting of the Shandaken Town Board to discuss re-zoning a portion of Route 28 in Shandaken, originally scheduled for tomorrow, has been changed to Wednesday, May 25 at 6pm.

Behind the proposed zoning change, which would permit more commercial activity on a stretch of 28 near the intersection with Route 212, is a standoff between the town and the Hanover Farms farmstand. The farmstand has been operating in violation of town zoning code for years, and the town has been reluctant to force the farmstand to comply. At the board's last regular meeting, on May 2, the motion to hold a special meeting generated some heated discussion between the board and audience members.

At the May 2 meeting, the board voted 3-2 to meet on Tuesday, May 25 to discuss re-zoning a stretch of Route 28 that includes the farmstand. Shandaken supervisor Rob Stanley told the Watershed Post that after the May 2 meeting, both board members who had voted against holding the meeting -- Tim Malloy and Doris Bartlett -- told the rest of the board that they could not attend the Tuesday meeting. The board then held yet another special meeting to set a new date for the zoning special meeting.

Meanwhile, the farmstand's owners, Al Higley and his son Alfie, are actively campaigning for the zoning change. The Higleys have mailed letters to addresses across the town, arguing that not adopting the zoning change would put them out of business.

A bit of background on the farmstand's current legal status: In 2008, the town's zoning enforcement officer issued a citation to the farmstand. However, the town is no longer pursuing action against the farmstand. In a recent email to the Watershed Post, Stanley described what happened next (like everything else involving this farmstand issue, there's plenty of 'he said/she said' here):

Yes a citation was issued in 2008, but later that year in a meeting between Mr. Higley, his attorney, the Chairs of the Planning and Zoning Boards (at that time), the Town ZEO (Gina Reilly), the Town's attorney on this matter (at the time) and the Town Supervisor (Peter DiSclafani). No councilmen were invited.

At this meeting some kind of deal was struck, Mr. Higley was asked to submit payment to the Town ($2500) for "site plan approval" at his current (2008) area. The Town Supervisor(Peter) accepted the check, deposited it in a Town account and ordered the ZEO (Gina) to rescind the citation, which she did. Mr. Higley's claim is that it was for him to receive site plan approval, Peter argued it was for "site plan review." In either case, not cool. The Town Planning Board is the only one that can enforce these fees and are deposited in an escrow account. These are actions of the Planning Board. The Town Board and especially a Town Supervisor, cannot enforce these fees, solely. Mind you a fee FAR in excess of our standard fee for a lot of the same size anywhere else in town citation exists today.

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