Shandaken public mostly supportive Hanover Farms in ZBA hearing

Hanover Farms when it was shut down.

Hanover Farms when it was shut down.

The Shandaken town hall was packed on Thursday, May 8, as the zoning board of appeals held a public hearing on whether to grant variances to permit Al Higley to reopen Hanover Farms, his Mount Tremper farm stand. The board expects to discuss the variances at its next meeting, scheduled for May 21 at 7:30 p.m. The entire permitting process will probably take at least another month and possibly longer, according to town supervisor Rob Stanley.

Most of the full-time and part-time residents who addressed the board were supportive of Higley, with some reservations expressed about his failure to observe zoning regulations in the past. Higley’s attorney, Rod Futerfas, told the board that the granting of variances requires them to weigh the possible negative effects of overruling zoning regulations versus the farm stand’s benefit to the community.

Hanover Farms has been closed since December in response to a judge’s ruling that the business has been operating for most of the past eleven years while failing to comply with town regulations and that it must remain shut down or apply for a new permit under the zoning law. The town planning board handed over Higley’s permit application to the zoning board in April for consideration of the required variances, due mainly to the physical footprint of the business, which exceeds the allowable size of a farm stand, even under the regulations revised in 2012.


“I don’t know a better neighbor than Al,” said 20-year Mount Tremper resident Hugh Kahn, who called Hanover Farms a beacon and a landmark. “Every time I’m coming back from New York City, or I’m coming back from Kingston, it’s tremendous to have a store that you can go to, where you can get fresh vegetables and, if you want, at 11 at night. I really miss this place.”

Meg Ampel praised Hanover Farms for “reflecting the sense of a country community that enhances the tourist niche we’ve worked so hard to carve out for ourselves.” She cited the farm stand’s charm and the owner’s hospitality and courtesy.

Of the 18 members of the public who spoke, nearly all expressed support for allowing the farm stand to reopen, citing Higley’s generosity to community groups, the 24-hour-a-day access to reasonably priced fresh produce and other foodstuffs, and the benefits to 14 employees and 22 local producers of items sold at Hanover Farms. Three of the speakers, however, had mixed feelings, and one was firmly opposed.

“I frequent the farm stand two or three times a day,” said Tina Rice. “I love those guys. However, there are rules and regulations that every business in the town of Shandaken has to follow. A lot of people don’t realize that this lawsuit was filed by Hanover Farms to the town. That’s costing us taxpayers in excess of $70,000. I want to see them back open, but we have to come to a happy medium.”

Kham Nguyen expressed frustration with Higley for having violated regulations for years with impunity. “If we let him get away with it, and somebody else in the future does the same thing, how will we stop it?” asked Nguyen. He was also disturbed by the tendency of cars to park on the shoulder of Route 28 in front of the farm stand and pull out abruptly onto the highway.


There are 6 comments

  1. adrienne

    I love that stand, have been living in Boiceville for 7 yrs. Fresh local fruit is something I and my husband look forward. Hope the town and Al can come to a compromise soon. Good Luck Al, hope to see you soon.

  2. Max and Adelaide's mom

    We miss the place and wish the Town would let the business reopen. Fair prices, and being open 24 hours a day made it a favorite stop on the way to the Catskills. Closing it is a real loss. PLEASE BRING IT BACK!

  3. Christopher Martin

    Shuttering the Hanover Farms stand on Route 28 is a blow to the entire community–not only to those of us who count on stopping there late at night on our way back from the city, but to the growers who supply the stand with produce. The stand has served as a welcome light kept aglow in the night, a landmark, an indispensable mecca for plants and flowers, gardening supplies, fresh fruit, vegetables, dairy, and baked goods. This is disgraceful. The taxpayers have voiced their support, and the town of Shandaken needs to rectify this injustice with all due speed.

  4. crunchmom

    It would be great if they would reopen – allowing us easy access to fair priced produce. Boiceville Supermarket is so expensive and Kingston is far. And it would be great if my husband could have his job back. The closing of the farm stand has taken a terrible financial toll on our family.

  5. Shirley Clark

    I think it is a shame that this stand is closed. I also loved the country charm and stopped often on the way down to Long Island and back for produce. I think the town should be ashamed that they could not work things out in a better manner.

  6. lloyd gack

    We need to remember a few things. Our local representatives are not nameless, faceless demi-gods. They live among us, were elected by us and they work for us. And they can be removed by us just as easily. Remember who these people are come election time. If you don’t like what’s happening in your community let them know. WE are the community. WE are their bosses. WE will have the final say.

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