Shandaken farm stand controversy grows over proposed zoning change
By Jay Braman Jr.
It appears the ongoing farm-stand flap in Shandaken is at a stalemate. A proposed farm-stand law remains in limbo, and in the meantime the man that stands to be most affected by the law made a last ditch effort recently to get the town board to scrap it altogether and start fresh.
Al Higley, the operator of the Hanover Farms produce stand on Route 28 in Mount Tremper, made an appeal to the board at the town council’s October meeting, saying that it would be a bad idea for the board to pass the law as proposed.
“We are not against a farm stand bill, we are against this bill….we will fight you till the blood flows…this is lawyer heaven,” he said. “Let’s take this in another direction. I am asking you to do this.”
To support his plea, Higley accused Town Supervisor Peter DiSclafani of “extortion” and suggested that the proposed law, as is, might not hold water legally.
County issues cited
DiSclafani, who warned Higley to “be careful” with his allegations in public, said that Higley’s notion of an “agricultural district” won’t fly because according to the Ulster County Planning Board there needs to be a farm in order for there to be such a district. Shandaken doesn’t have any in the Mount Tremper area.
Higley then held up a map supplied by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection that shows the borders of the hamlet. The hamlet designation was created to show an area in which the city would not be allowed to buy property. In the mid-1990s when this map was developed it was part of the deal between the city and the communities that make up the vast watershed. The idea was to prevent the city from buying land within hamlets so those lands could continue to be used and developed.
While Higley interprets that intent to mean those lands are supposed to be zoned commercial, DiSclafani said not so.
The supervisor went further, saying that he would not support a commercial designation just so Higley could be allowed to build a grocery store.
Councilman Robert Stanley jumped in, saying that even though the area was not zoned commercial it has been used for commercial ventures for decades.