DOT wants farmstand items out of the right-of-way

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By Jay Braman Jr.
The New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) has demanded that Hanover Farms in Mount Tremper get its merchandize out of the Route 28 right of way.

Al Higley, the owner of the store, says he is well aware that his business is encroaching on the right of way, but says so is everyone else.

In a letter dated May 2, 2012, the DOT’s David Corrigan gave Higley the chance to remove his advertising signs, pallets of landscaping material, all products for sale and the canopy constructed of metal tubing that are within the right of way.

“In the interests of highway safety for you and the users of the state highway, advertising and similar devices which may divert a driver’s attention must be removed from the highway right of way or put under a Use and Occupancy Permit if it is deemed not to be a safety hazard to the traveling public,” Corrigan wrote.

An aerial photograph enclosed with the letter shows that the DOT right of way goes all the way up to the edge of the new metal roof structure at the farm stand.
Higley was given two choices. Either remove it all within 20 days or apply for the permit.

Seeking permit
On Monday Higley said he was in the process of applying for a permit to continue to use the land, but is quick to add that he believes he is being singled out by the DOT.

“We know we are encroaching, but we’re not alone here,” he said. “This is selective enforcement.”
By his count, there are at least 43 other businesses along Route 28 that are in violation. Higley believes he is being singled out because of his ongoing legal run ins with the Town of Shandaken over the size of the business.

In March Higley filed a lawsuit against the town because the town’s code officer issued a stop work order against Higley, who was doing construction work on the controversial farm stand.
According to Code Officer Richard Stokes, the work Higley was doing went above and beyond the work he received a permit to accomplish and expanded the size of the business. Higley disagrees, saying he was only making repairs.

Higley said that lawsuit is moving forward.
“We are going to Supreme Court with it,” he said.