While a recent trip to from zoning inspector revealed no code violations, the town is still exploring its options in response to complaints from neighbors – one of whom recently called the farm a "truck depot" – that have persisted for years.
Members of the Town Board took up the issue Tuesday morning at its bi-weekly work session, with Supervisor Scott Russell asking the question driving one large point of contention between the neighbors: "How much of this is an agricultural operation and how much is a shipping operation?"
At a , John Lademann – whose front yard holds a sign that reads "STOP SATUR FARMS FROM KILLING US WITH DIESEL FUMES DUST NOISE POLLUTION" – called Satur Farms more of a shipping operation than an agricultural one.
"I've been waiting five years for the Town Board to take action," Lademann said on Tuesday night. "This isn't farming. It's a truck depot."
Ironically, according to Section 280, Article XIX, Lademann's sign is out of compliance with the town code.
Complaints from neighbors primarily include dust, noise, and heavy use of Alvah's Lane for commercial purposes. Jim McNamara of 4000 Alvah's Ln. said on a busy day forklifts travel on the public road from one side of the farm to the other, "50 or 60 times a day."
Paulette Satur defended the farm run by her and husband Eberhard Müller on Tuesday, saying that her neighbors will "never stop complaining."
"How do they expect us to get the vegetables off the farm if they don't get taken off the trucks?" she asked. "They would be more upset if we had a farm stand."
She said use of the roadway is permitted for farm vehicles.
Satur Farms received approval for a new site plan in September of 2009 which would have moved its greenhouses further from the road. Under town code the applicants have three years to fulfill requirements. No construction has commenced, according to the town, and Satur mentioned in an interview that she is looking at "building elsewhere."
Satur noted that while she was waiting for site plan approval years back, her loan commitment dried up, leaving the farm without the proper funding to pay for the construction.
A note written in mid-May by Zoning Inspector Damon Rallis stated that precisely because no construction has taken place, "they would not be legally required to adhere to the conditions of the approved site plan."
Town Attorney Martin Finnegan said on Thursday that his office will be analyzing the case further, making sure the farm's approved uses are in line with its operations, before potentially pursuing any legal options. He did, however, rebut Satur's statement that usage of Alvah's Lane is open for farm vehicle use at will.
"You see a tractor going from point A to point B all the time around here," said Finnegan. "There's no problem with that. But to convert the town road to an extension of their operation — that's another thing."