On Thursday, January 28, Supreme Court Justice Mary Work rendered a final decision regarding the long-standing litigation between the town of Shandaken and Hanover Farms. The farm stand owner, Al Higley, was ordered to pay the town $126,200 in fines.
The once-popular farm stand on Route 28 in Mount Tremper was closed by order of Justice Work in late 2013, resolving a dispute over violations of the town building code on the part of Hanover Farms. Higley has since opened a store farther east on Route 28 in the town of Olive.
The court has imposed the maximum fine under Section 74 of the town code, $200 per day for violations covering the 631 days in which the farm stand operated in defiance of a 2012 stop work order. Building inspector Richard Stokes had found that ongoing renovations exceeded the stipulations of the building permit granted to the farm stand. The court’s decision stated that the fine is imposed on Hanover Farms due to “…the egregious and flagrant nature of their violations,” which included operating without a certificate of occupancy during this period.
Shandaken supervisor Rob Stanley stated, “The town is pleased with the outcome of this case, due to the diligent work of our law firm Jacobowitz & Gubits, LLP, after many years of litigation. We would have liked to have resolved this civilly and without litigation, but Hanover Farms, Inc., chose a course of action to their own detriment.”
He referred to a new farm stand under construction adjacent to the former Hanover Farms, saying this business, under a different owner, “meets all of the requirements of a law constructed in 2012 to help promote these types of businesses. The town has well established its desire to bring these types of businesses into town while still providing certain protections for their neighbors and visitors alike.”
The court’s decision also observes that the fine will cover the $60,000 in legal fees incurred by the town during the case, remarking, “The tax payers of Shandaken should not have to bear the expense of this litigation.”
Higley, who declined to comment, referred questions to his attorney, who did not return phone calls by press time.