Public Hearing for Higley's set for May 8
By Jay Braman Jr.
Area residents will get a chance to speak up on Al Higley’s efforts to reopen his store in Mount Tremper, which is now shut down by State Supreme Court order.
On Thursday, May 8 at 7 p.m., the Shandaken Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a public hearing at town hall on Route 28 in Allaben.
At that time the public will be able to see what it is that Higley wants to do, should he get a waiver from town law to do it, and tell the zoners what they think. If previous public meetings on Higley’s business are any indication, this hearing can be expected to be packed, boisterous and even entertaining as people take turns making passionate remarks both for and against the controversial enterprise.
Higley supporters say the store is good for the town. Opponents say Higley should have a business that follows the law like everyone else does.
Hanover Farms, a grocery store/farm stand that Higley owns and operates along with his son and town councilman Alfie Higley, is seeking “area variances from the following sections of the Town of Shandaken Zoning Law: 114-40 T (1) and (2); 116-16 B (2) and the Schedule of Bulk and Area Requirements for the R 1.5 District,” according to a notice publicized by the Zoning Board of Appeals a little under two weeks ago. “Said area variances seek relief from setback and use area limitations and are required in connection with Hanover Farms’ request to operate a farm stand on premises located at 5200 Route 28.”
Not enough space
That’s zoning speak for needing special permission to have too much stuff on too little land.
In seeking that permission, the Higleys are at the end of the line in their attempt to legally operate the business that they set up 10 years ago.
On November 27, 2013 State Supreme Court Justice Mary Work gave the owners of Hanover Farms 60 days to take the structure down.
That gave the Higleys until January 25 to remove the place, but then the Town of Shandaken signed a consent order that allowed the place to stay while the Higleys tried to make the business legal.
When Justice Work handed down her decision in November she said that after being granted approval to build a 100-square-foot farm stand, Higley gradually expanded the business to over 2,000 square feet despite receiving stop work orders from the town’s former code officer, Richard Stokes.
In response to Higley’s lawsuit, the town claimed that Hanover Farms had ignored more than one stop work order and undertook a vast expansion without building permits or site plan approval and did it all too close to Route 28.
When all was said and done, according to the town, Hanover Farms created a retail space 26 times larger than the area authorized in the permit issued in 2004 to build 100 square feet.