The Schenectady County Legislature unanimously passed an amended resolution that barred a property on St. David's Lane in Niskayuna from being included in the Schenectady County Agricultural District.
The decision came after more than 75 people from the St. David's Lane area packed the chambers at the Legislature's meeting on Tuesday, June 10. Nearly a dozen of the residents spoke, all of them citing the fact that the property in question did not have a viable agricultural use, especially considering its location in a residential neighborhood.
The amended resolution removed Tom Lennon's property at 848 St. David's Lane from the district. Lennon's 5-acre property contains 3 acres of wetland and half an acre occupied by his home, a greenhouse and his front lawn. Much of the rest of the property is covered in trees.
Lennon said he and his wife would continue to grow flowers and vegetables in their 800-square-foot greenhouse, which was constructed this past winter. Lennon plans on marketing the produce to local consumers.
They (the town) said if we can grow it, we can sell it, said Lennon.
The property is zoned residential. Lennon said he decided to apply to the Agricultural District program after doing research on the state program, which protects farmers against local laws that unreasonably restrict farm operations.
Neighbors said Lennon was trying to abuse the law to get around town zoning ordinances. Residents raised concerns over the possible abuse to wetlands on the property, the possible increase in traffic in the area and potential drops in property values. Area homeowners were also concerned that Lennon's request came in the guise of wanting to establish a commercial venture.
"R-1 (residential) is not an appropriate location for a business, let alone an agribusiness," said Mike McPartland, one of Lennon's neighbors.
Matt Mannino, of Avon Crest Boulevard, said allowing Lennon into the zone would set a dangerous precedent.