Hanover Farms moves to Shokan; controversy in Shandaken remains
By Jay Braman Jr.
Against a backdrop of uncertainty over the fate of a request to reopen their Mount Tremper store, the owners of Hanover Farms have announced they are leaving town.
A sign in front of the long-closed farm stand, states “FARMSTAND REOPENING AT OLD BANK IN SHOKAN!”
Last week, down at that old bank, the former Bank of America that closed in the spring of 2013 and has sat vacant ever since, store owners Al and Alfie Higley were setting up a tent in the paved parking lot near the old drive-through window.
Out front is new sign, with a new name for the enterprise, which will now be known as the Greenheart Farmstand.
In May the Shandaken Zoning Board of Appeals upheld the recommendations of the Ulster County Planning Board, voting to suspend progress on granting variances to Hanover Farms until the owners get approval from the State Department of Transportation.
The decision followed a two-hour meeting/public hearing during which Hanover Farms Attorney Rod Futerfas strongly objected to involving the Department of Transportation. He also urged the Zoning Board to ignore the County Planning Board’s recommendations, immediately grant his clients’ the variances needed to keep the store at its current size and let the town’s planning board sort out issues with the Transportation Department later.
Town Attorney Larry Wolinsky cautioned the board against any such actions, saying that the board lacked enough information to make sound judgments.
Hanover Farms has been closed since November 2013 when State Supreme Court Justice Mary Work ruled against the store’s owners, Al and Alfie Higley, in their lawsuit against the town.
Alfie Higley, who is a Shandaken Town Councilman, said nothing of the matter Monday night at the board’s July meeting.
Although the Higleys are moving on to greener pastures, there are a couple matters in Shandaken left unresolved.
The lawsuit they brought against the town cost the town over $70,000 in legal fees.
A sentencing hearing to determine what fines and reimbursements Hanover Farms must pay the town has not happened yet. Previously set for this past winter, it was delayed while the Shandaken zoning and planning boards review the Higley’s application.
Also, the court’s decision required that the Higley’s take their building down. That too was tabled while the new application was under review.