Higleys to use bank building for new Shokan farmstand

Higley SQA step in taking over the Bank of America with a farmstand was taken on August 5 when the Olive Planning Board reviewed a site plan presented for a proposed roadside grocery to be called “Greenheart.” Actually, the abandoned building formerly occupied by the Shokan branch of the bank on Route 28, which closed last year in June, became an issue in the farmstand’s effort to locate their business at the site which appeared to be resolved at the meeting.

“We had asked them to do several things with the site plan (as it had been offered at a meeting in mid-July),” said Planning Board Chair, Drew Boggus. “Primarily, getting in touch with the DOT (New York State Department of Transportation) to talk about the safety of traffic flow at the site, as well as some setback and parking issues, and they seemed to address all of that.” The use of the actual building itself and the size of the lot were related factors to be resolved.

“One thing presented on the 15th of July was, basically, they wanted to do everything outside. They weren’t going to use the building and that created a problem for us,” Boggus said. “How are people going to park? When you start looking at the setbacks, there’s not much room on that piece of property (which is 0.6 of an acre) other than the building. Keep in mind that setbacks in town are 50 feet, front and back and 25’ side to side. A roughly half-acre lot laid out with those setbacks doesn’t leave much in the middle.”


The plan was advanced by Al Higley and his son Alfie Higley, Jr., a Shandaken town councilman, where the Higleys (who were not available for comment) had previously operated the Hanover Farmstand on Route 28 in Mt. Tremper.

“So, those were the two issues and it looked to me like the Higleys had gotten together and decided ‘Okay, we’ll use the building’ and that changed a lot of things,” Boggus concluded. “That allows more parking, better traffic flow and so on.”

One difficulty encountered in Mt. Tremper was avoided as the choice of location for a new farmstand is in a commercially zoned area.


Remembering Al’s

When the Hanover Stand was closed by court order, there was a notable display of support from area residents who value the convenience of shopping for food within the community. This sentiment was echoed in Olive by residents who emerged to help the Boiceville Market reopen more quickly after flood damages caused by Hurricane Irene. The market in Boiceville, in fact, had once been “Al’s Supermarket” operated by Higley in the 1970s and later sold to the IGA (Independent Grocers Alliance) chain.

Remarkably, Town of Olive Supervisor Sylvia Rozzelle remembers precisely the day Higley opened that market and the local enthusiasm with which it was greeted.

“I remember July 4th weekend, (customers) were lined up down the aisles, so glad to have a grocery store. It was a big event,” said Rozzelle, who started working for the store June 28, 1978, as her first employment after moving from Kentucky to live in Olive with her late husband Sam. She commented that she had remained friends with the family after they left the Market in 1982 and is pleased to see them adhering to zoning laws after their extended disputes with zoning officials in Shandaken.


Possible approval September 16

The new site plans, which also include adjustments to space use at the rear and inside boundaries of the site as well as refinement of the lighting conditions, still have to be reviewed again by the NYSDOT and the Ulster County Planning Board and additional corrections, if any, accounted for, noted Boggus. He said there were several further steps which needed to be taken before Greenheart Farmstand can open as a business at the location. No major exterior architectural changes are anticipated in the designs.

“I’m going to assume, right now, by the looks of what Al and Alfie presented, they’ve responded to the DOT’s (earlier) input and when we receive something in writing from that agency and the Ulster County Planning Board, which needs this paperwork in their hands by the 22nd of August, sends their response, we can proceed to the final steps.”

Boggus observed that since the next Olive Planning Board meeting is scheduled for September 2 and the County Planning Board meets on September 3, the earliest Greenheart Farmstand could expect approval would be at a September 16 meeting of his planning board. Then, assuming there’s not more work required by the County input — which would dictate another round of meetings — the farmstand would be free to open for business following confirmed approval at the September 16 meeting.