Shandaken farmstand drama

When people get angry about things as benign as farm stands, they get really angry. Phoenicia's Hanover Farms, a large and successful farm stand on Rte. 28 in Mt. Tremper, has been a flashpoint of angst for years.

In a nutshell, owner Al Higley's supporters love his low prices and 24-hour availability, and his detractors argue that his stand violates the law and causes dangerous traffic conditions on Rte. 28. In 2008, the town found the farm stand in violation of Shandaken's zoning laws, and ever since Higley and his legal team have steadfastly refused to recognize the citation's validity.

On Tuesday, at a Shandaken Town Board meeting, the issue came up yet again, reports the Catskill Mountain News:

Last Tuesday afternoon Shandaken Supervisor Rob Stanley was hopeful that the process of preparing a new farm stand law would move forward later in the evening when the town board was scheduled to meet with the planning board to try and hammer out something that would allow larger enterprises of this type in Shandaken. By the time the meeting was half over it was clear that his hopes would be dashed.

The Phoenicia Times has a folksier take on the various proposals for farm stand laws, some of which town planner Maureen Millar characterized as an attempt to retroactively legalize Hanover Farms:

"We're trying to make Al legal and everyone knows it," Millar said of the process.

The PT also reports that Higley's enemies see a conspiracy in the town's yearly discussion of farm stand rules:

Critics of the process complain that it appears that the town ignored the matter until spring when the stand opens, then takes several months to talk about solutions and then, at the end of the Farmstand season each fall, concludes that more discussion is needed. The result is that Higley keeps his stand open another year, and some say it leaves the town liable in the event of a traffic accident at the site.

For a richer flavor of the conflict, it's worth looking at the Hanover Farms entry on SeeClickFix, a website that allows citizens to report problems that they'd like fixed. As of today, there are 191 comments on the post. Here's a select few:

very scared in Shandaken wrote about 1 month ago

every time you come to this section of rte 28 you must slow down to accommodate traffic. today I had to stop because an old lady with a cane was trying to cross as she was parked on the opposite side of the street. Wonder how many cars waited as she returned to her car with her purchases! this can't be legal, its not a farm stand/NO FARM its a supermarket without walls. No legit business would get away with this. Taxpayers will pay when there is an accident. Why are they still allowed to operate?

Boiceville Nana wrote 27 days ago

Today I was going to my doctor's office in Shandaken, and as I approached the stand there was a car parked on the side of the road in front of the stand, blocking the view from the driveway. As I cruised up Rte. 28 at the speed limit a car crept out in front of me, its view of the road being blocked. There was a car coming toward me in the other lane. I had to hit the brakes. the car tried to back up but another car was behind it in the parking lot. Fortunately my car is relatively new and I was able to slow down enough, and there was no one behind me. I am proud to say I avoided a disaster. Don't even ask what my blood pressure was when I got to the doctor's office. Let's just get someone out there to control the scene. It's not even full summer yet. We don't have this problem at the many other commercial spots in the area.

mighty opinion wrote 18 days ago

I don't understand why the planning board, zoning board and town board don't order the ZEO to issue violations for this issue. Vote them out!